Ever since 2012, when the American Bar Association amended the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to say that lawyers have a duty to be competent in technology, there has been debate over just how far that duty extends.

In a decision that could be a harbinger of how other states will rule, the State Bar of California has now said that lawyers who handle litigation have an ethical duty to be competent in e-discovery or associate with others who have that competence.

The opinion, issued June 30, finalizes a proposed opinion that the bar put out for public comment earlier this year.

What strikes me as most significant about this is that many lawyers — including litigators — remain woefully naive about e-discovery. But as this opinion points out, these days e-discovery can come up in almost every litigation matter. Competence therefore requires that attorneys have at least a baseline understanding of it.

I have a full write-up on the opinion at the Catalyst E-Discovery Search Blog. I also wrote there last February about the proposed opinion. I also created a redlined version showing the changes from the proposed opinion to the final opinion.

Related posts:

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.