The Myth of the Digital Native: Establishing Competence and Eliminating Tech Bias in the Modern Law Firm

Technological illiteracy and generational bias in the legal industry is causing law firms to implement faulty strategies regarding technical training and education of their attorneys and staff. Co-authors Ivy B. Grey and Darth Vaughn discuss the myth of the digital native and tech bias and applicable ethical rules:

  • Model Rule 1.1: The duty of competence, including technology competence.
  • Model Rule 5.1: The duty to supervise and facilitate ethical compliance of subordinate lawyers.
  • Model Rule 1.5: The prohibition against collecting unreasonable fees.

Using the example of MS Word, the authors explore how the presumption of tech talent can lead to inefficient and poor work product, lower realization rates, lost profits, and creates a multi-layered cluster of incompetence and potential ethical violations in law firms. In the article, the authors urge firms to move to competency-based assessment and training so that all lawyers have the opportunity to develop appropriate tech competence.

This article was prepared for The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2.017, a TED-like conference for lawyers, hosted by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism on May 18, 2017, where Vaughn presented. Download the article today and check out our Lawyer's Guide to MS Word Training and Resources.

To learn more about legal ethics and how you should be using MS Word, sign up for two hours of CLE credit in a presentation by Ivy for Lawline:

  • Exploring the Ethical Duty of Technology Competence Part I: Tech Savvy Is a Requirement, Not an Option – On-demand at Lawline.com and live broadcast on August 24, 2017.
  • Exploring the Ethical Duty of Technology Competence Part II: Incompetent Use of Basic Technology Leads to Unreasonable and Unethical Fees – On-demand at Lawline.com and live broadcast on August 24, 2017.