Technology has changed rapidly over the last few decades – and it’s still changing. Sometimes, people struggle to adapt to new technology, even when it’s crucial to their profession.
That’s rough for the people who can’t adjust, but it’s worse for their clients when the person who can’t adapt to the new technology happens to be an attorney. It might also be legal malpractice.
The Rules of Professional Conduct require competent representation
According to the Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys are ethically bound to provide competent representation to their clients. Included in that definition is the requirement for attorneys to keep up with changes in both the law and the way their profession is practiced.
What’s that got to do with changes in technology? It means that an attorney needs to have a reasonable understanding and ability to use the tools of their trade – and that includes digital files, computers and ordinary computer programs like Word, Excel, PDF files and email.
While data security (and, therefore, the ability to protect a client’s private information) is part of the equation, attorneys also have to be efficient with the programs they use every day. If, for example, they need someone to walk them through how to open a PDF file every time they do it, that could add up to a lot of hours that are essentially wasted. If they’re charging their clients for time that was used up by their own technological ineptitude, that’s unethical.
Imagine what could happen to a big civil lawsuit between one business and another if one of the attorneys involved didn’t understand the necessity to collect or preserve electronic data, like text messages, social media posts, emails and other communications. That could lead to a disaster for their clients.
Legal malpractice comes in many shapes and sizes, and technological incompetence is now one of them. If you believe that your attorney violated their obligations to you, it may be time to find out more.