Should the Rules of Professional Conduct Require Competence in Technology?

The recent revisions to Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct do not contain the words ‘computer’, ‘information technology’, or ‘electronic’, except in the latter case for a reference to the electronic registration of real estate transfers.

Is this a desirable demonstration of technology neutrality or a missed opportunity to give useful direction to the profession on an increasingly important aspect of the practice of law?

Monica Goyal, who makes her living in the law-and-technology world, suggests in her recent column for the Law Times that the rules should give some guidance.

Do you agree?

If not, have you read the long article in the Canadian Lawyer about the perils of the digital world for law firms?



  1. and see the immediately preceding post to Slaw, about recent changes to the BC rules – for better or worse! Be careful what you wish for!

    But see the LSBC’s follow-up clarification about how the cloud rules work.

    In particular, note “The Law Society regulates lawyers, not technology.” Clearly right, but in BC it has not prevented the Law Society from providing guidance in its Rules. Should the regulators in Upper Canada follow suit?

  2. Here is a summary of the American Bar Association’s position on this topic, and the response of state bar governors to it. In short: lawyers have to be familiar with today’s technology to be competent.

    Bottom line:

    The rule of competence requires a lawyer to possess the “skill” reasonably necessary for representation, and it would be a losing argument to say that any lawyer today can competently represent a client without knowing the basics of technology.