Tech Competence: Are Judges Keeping Up?

Sep 23, 2019

Tech Competence - Are Judges Keeping UpSo you’re getting yourself up to speed on the latest legal tech, as the world of technology at large continues to have a greater role in the legal sphere. In fact, the requirement for “tech competence” is a must for lawyers these days.

As more and more information in civil litigation is in electronic form – everything from old fashioned voicemails and emails, to social media and metadata time-date stamps – the need for being well-versed in it all is of utmost importance. And litigation lawyers are continually striving to keep up.

In Canada, studies continue into the Federation of Law Societies’ committee proposal to add “technological competence” to its Model Code of Professional Conduct.

In Ontario, the LSO has practice management guidelines on technology on its website. And in the U.S., at least 36 states have adopted the ABA’s duty of technology competence amendments to its model ethics rules for lawyers.

But when you get into the courtroom, is the judge on the same (electronic) page? Does he/she know their TIFF from their TAR?

Currently, judges aren’t beholden to the same proposals or amendments with regard to tech competence. In a recent 2019 judges survey on the state of e-discovery, more than 70% said judges should be receiving additional or even “extensive” training on e-discovery.

In his Above The Law blog, Robert Ambrogi notes a number of crucial ways in which a judge must preside over technology, including:

  • Electronically-stored information as evidence
  • Highly complex cases centred around technology
  • Oversight of courtroom recording technology
  • Ethical use of social media in their own lives

As the technology continues to change the way law is practiced, it’s imperative that “tech competence” reaches from the Bar to the Bench.