A lawyer’s ethical obligation to remain technologically competent requires staying informed about relevant technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), regularly assessing its benefits and risks, and taking reasonable measures to protect client confidences and information, McGuireWoods Houston office managing partner Yasser Madriz and associate Miles Indest, Tysons counsel Thomas Spahn and Austin associate Taylor Malatek wrote in Bloomberg Law.
In the May 2023 story, the authors wrote that tech competence — the ability to understand and use technology in the practice of law — is essential for lawyers to represent clients effectively and comply with legal ethics rules. They focused on four areas of growing importance: cybersecurity and cloud storage, e-discovery and electronically stored information, AI and automation, and social media and software applications.
Such technology is rapidly changing the legal industry — social media is now a crucial tool for gathering evidence, and an AI program recently aced the Uniform Bar Exam with a score near the 90th percentile. While technology can benefit law firms and clients, it also raises important ethical and legal risks, the authors cautioned.
“Tech competence is an evolving concept, and lawyers should understand how new technology can impact their duties and professional obligations, including those of competence, confidentiality, and disclosure to the client,” the authors wrote. “By staying informed about relevant cases and ethical opinions, attorneys can make informed decisions and disclosures about how to best handle the wide range of emerging technology in today’s digital age.”
In addition to the Bloomberg Law article, McGuireWoods lawyers are advising clients on new AI regulations, and have published multiple legal alerts assessing the benefits, risks, and best practices for using AI and other emerging technologies, including “EEOC Issues Guidance on Artificial Intelligence Hiring Tools”; “Government Agencies Join Forces Against Bias and Discrimination in AI”; and “Employers Beware: The Rise of AI (Regulation).”