Document Type



Legal Education


Comment 8 of Model Rule 1.1 of the Professional Rules of Conduct requires attorneys to be ethically accountable for technology competence. However, the drafting of the language of Rule 1.1 is vague. As a result, attorneys, law firms, and law schools apply Rule 1.1 differently and emphasize topics they deem most important. Per American Bar Association (ABA) Standard 301, law schools must maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares their students for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession. Law schools have summarily responded to Rule 1.1 and Standard 301 by adding and offering courses in the technology space. Arguably, law schools perceive that they are aligning their course curricula with law firm expectations and hiring practices by offering courses that respond to law 0rm hiring trends. Unfortunately, job descriptions for attorney positions traditionally reflect only some of the technology skills required or mandated for those positions. Moreover, as new positions become available, or lateral positions open, job descriptions are equally vague about what is necessary for a successful candidate beyond already-existing knowledge in that field.

This Article proposes that law schools and law firms must share a view of technology competence and its application in legal practice in the absence of a clear-cut standard for technology competence from the ABA and state courts. The authors draw their recommendations from their own empirical studies in legal technology course instruction and law firm job descriptions. The authors look to the Foundations of the Whole Lawyer Model and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (“IAALS”) Hiring Guide to advocate for a more holistic approach to lawyering that integrates technology and technology competence into all aspects of law practice. The authors recommend that law firms use the Whole Lawyer approach to draft their job descriptions with language that properly addresses the technology competencies necessary for those positions. Only then will law schools be able to properly align their course curricula to meet the current needs of technology competence in modern legal practice.