The Duty of Competence: Will it Expand as Technology Advances?
It’s long been the case that a lawyer’s conduct has included a duty of competence – especially as it relates to clients and prospective clients. Attorneys must act competently not only in the manner in which they provide legal services to clients, but also in connection with the substantive area of law at issue. Few attorneys like to turn clients away, but it’s the rare patent litigator (for example) who can also handle a divorce proceeding.
Not surprisingly, the Professional Ethics Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association made clear in its Formal Opinion 749 that “[t]he duty of competence expands as technological developments become integrated into the practice of law.” As such, “a lawyer’s duty of competence in a litigation or investigation requires that the lawyer have a sufficient understanding of issues related to securing, transmitting, and producing electronically stored information.”
Importantly, an attorney “fulfills his or her duty of technological competence if the lawyer possesses the requisite knowledge personally, acquires the requisite knowledge before performance is required, or associates with one or more persons who possess the requisite technological knowledge.”
At Level 2 Legal, we work alongside the attorneys and corporations we are privileged to serve so that when the discovery of ESI raises technical issues, they are handled efficiently, cost-effectively, and – above all else – competently. Our clients count on us to handle those aspects of their matters so that they can focus their time and attention where it belongs – on the merits of cases. It’s one of the reasons that our clients routinely refer to Level 2 Legal as a seamless extension of their discovery team.
Click below to learn more about how Level 2 Legal supports attorneys and corporations every day as they navigate the technical obligations that arise from the handling and discovery of ESI.