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

47 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2020 Last revised: 23 Sep 2020

Date Written: March 2, 2020


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

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.

Keywords: legal education, technology, competence, standards, Model Rules, ethics, law students, algorithms

Suggested Citation

Haight, Iantha, Digital Natives, Techno-Transplants: Framing Minimum Technology Standards for Law School Graduates (March 2, 2020). 44 Journal of the Legal Profession 175 (2020), BYU Law Research Paper No. 20-08, Available at SSRN: or

Iantha Haight (Contact Author)

Howard W. Hunter Law Library ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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