Digital Natives, Techno-Transplants: Framing Minimum Technology Standards for Law School Graduates




Journal of the Legal Profession






Adjustments need to be made to legal education for new attorneys to be ready for the technological demands of legal practice. In 2012, the American Bar Association added a duty of technology competence to the standard for general competence in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which has now been adopted by 38 states. The new Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 was an important response to decades of developments in technology that have profoundly affected, and will continue to affect, legal practice. However, like the original duty of competence, the specific elements of the duty of technology competence are rather vague. Law schools will be most effective in helping students develop the technology skills they need by coalescing around a minimum standard of technology competence skills for all law students. Reviewing the history of the general duty of competence, the development of Comment 8, and the current Model Rules of Professional Conduct, I propose a standard of technology competence for graduating law students that includes technology related to (1) information storage; (2) communication; (3) discovery; (4) research and analysis; (5) marketing; and (6) technology resilience. These six areas include skills and knowledge critical to legal practice, such as cybersecurity, office technology, redaction, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Although technology training in law schools need not be extensive, a basic curriculum of these skills combined with practice analyzing and adapting to new technology will ensure that newly-minted law school graduates have a solid foundation for their careers.