Are you a Luddite? Are your law partners Luddites? If so, the ABA House of Delegates just fired a warning shot across your bow.
Let’s first start with the definition of Luddite, a term with which some are unfamiliar.
Luddites [lud-eyets)] (noun)
Opponents of the introduction of labor-saving machinery. The original Luddites, followers of a legendary Ned Ludd, were British laborers of the early nineteenth century who smashed textile-making machines that threatened their jobs.
Note : Contemporary opponents of technological change are sometimes called Luddites.
About six months ago I wrote a post titled “Are most lawyers Luddites?” It looks as if some members of the ABA House of Delegates have been asking the same question.
The ABA Journal this week reported:
Lawyers can’t be Luddites, according to changes to the model ethics rules approved Monday by the ABA House of Delegates.
Some of the changes approved by the House update the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to acknowledge that information is stored digitally as well as in paper files, clients communicate electronically as well as by phone calls, and email isn’t the only method of electronic communications.
But the technology-related amendments go further, requiring lawyers to keep current on more than just changes in the law. Lawyers also have a duty to keep abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology, according to new commentary language added to Rule 1.1 on the duty to provide competent representation. Click here (PDF) to see all of the amendments added to all of the model rules at this year’s annual meeting.
My “Luddite” post said: “If you look at surveys of law firms and their adoption of new technology and marketing methods, such as social media, you’ll see that a good argument can be made that most lawyers are in fact Luddites.”
If state bar associations begin adopting the new amendments to the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, it’s my guess that a significant number of attorneys would be guilty of violating the ethics rule against “Ludditeism.”