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Ethical Pitfalls of Social Media & Technology

November 30th, -0001

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The ethical requirement that legal professionals handle their matters competently is nothing new. In fact, RPC 1.1 has traditionally be rather straight forward in requiring that legal professionals avoid an instance of gross neglect or, alternatively, a pattern of general neglect in representing their clients.

Traditionally, this required that legal practitioners keep themselves updated with regard to changes in the law and its practice. Under recent changes at the national level through the American Bar Association, as well as throughout the country at the state bar level, however, legal professionals are now under a requirement to keep themselves updated on technology and its impacts on the practice of law.

In other words, in order to provide competent representation to our clients, we must be aware of and understand the technology that our clients and adversaries use in their everyday professional and personal lives. Ignorance of technology and how it works is a recipe for disaster that will now quickly get an attorney or paralegal into ethical hot water and even possibly subject them to a legal malpractice claim.

It is indisputable that social media and technology is a fundamental part of our society. For example, more than a billion people use Facebook daily. Almost every business utilizes technology whether it's cloud based computing, video conferencing software, mobile applications, or website portals just to name a few. Everything that our clients or adversaries do online, or through technology, leaves behind a substantial trail of electronically stored information (ESI).

The recent amendments and ethics opinions nationwide dealing with competence have clearly established a requirement that legal professionals possess a thorough knowledge of how ESI is stored and, just as importantly, where to look for it in the discovery phase of the litigation they are handling.

Love it or hate it, technology and social media have changed everything. For more details on the ethical pitfalls associated with technology and social media, check out the on-demand program here.  

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