Navigating Technology Competence in Transactional Practice
34 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018 Last revised: 9 Oct 2019
Date Written: 2019
In 2012 the American Bar Association House of Delegates, based on the work of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, amended the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“MRPC”) to include a new requirement concerning lawyer competence. The obligation, enacted as a comment to existing Model Rule 1.1 (outlining a lawyer’s requisite competence), requires lawyers “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology”. To date, this Comment 8 to MRPC 1.1 (“Comment 8” or “the Comment”) has been adopted in 36 states, and has begun generating scholarship and debate as to its enforcement, efficacy, and extent. However, very little has been written regarding the requirements of the Comment on practitioners of transactional law. Nor have scholars considered how the increased efficiencies that might be fostered by the Comment could increase the marketability and reach of transactional lawyers to traditionally under-represented groups, including entrepreneurs and small businesses. This Article will examine the potential pitfalls, parameters, and benefits of technology competence in transactional lawyering, and provide workable guidelines for compliance in the quickly changing landscapes of legal technology and deal-making.
Keywords: Model Rules of Professional Conduct, MRPC, technology, competence, transactional law
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