This infographic is based upon an article written by Angela D. Masciulli, CP, MPS, eDiscovery Project Coordinator and Litigation Support Analyst at Digital Paralegal Services, LLC®. To read it in its entirety, click here.
Six Reasons Technology Is Important To Your Paralegal Career:
Significant change is underway in the legal industry. Technology is revolutionizing legal processes, court functions, and how many attorneys and firms work and manage cases. Judge and client expectations are evolving with new technologies too. Now is the time for paralegals to adapt to a rapidly changing legal market, not only to do their best in their current positions, but potentially expand their career.
Attorneys should also encourage the paralegals they work with to advance their technology knowledge, as well seek tech savvy paralegals to assist them with their cases. Paralegals who understand the importance of legal technology in today’s legal market are an asset to your legal team.
Here are six reasons why technology is critical to your paralegal career no matter your specialty:
- Rule Changes
Electronically stored information, more commonly referred to as ESI, was first addressed in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure decades ago. The most recent significant changes to The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) regarding ESI was in 2006, and more changes are on track for adoption in December 2015. Although I won’t go through each change to the FRCP and its impact on ESI and E-Discovery, one message is clear: courts expect attorneys to know more about ESI and discovery of electronic data than ever before. Since discovery is the phase of litigation with tasks most often delegated to paralegals, paralegals must also know more about ESI and e-Discovery to assist legal teams. Numerous state jurisdictions have also adopted rules regarding ESI. Paralegals must be aware of their obligations to ethically and professionally assist attorneys under court rules.
- Ethics and Professionalism
Many legal commentators point to one ethics amendment that shifted the legal technology conversation: the American Bar Association’s 2012 amendment to Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1. The Model Rule that influences an attorney’s duty of competence in many states, was changed to include relevant technical knowledge to an attorney’s duty to be competent in the law and its practice. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 has long required attorneys to keep client information confidential, including electronic data. Several states have similar rules to Model Rule 1.1 and 1.6, but some states bar associations are going further to specify exact technical skills attorneys must have (or obtain through expert consultants) to competently represent their clients.
Two states in particular have adopted opinions related to an attorney’s duty to be knowledgeable about technology. The New Hampshire Bar Association, in Advisory Opinion #2012-13/4, specifically addressed an attorney’s duty to not only have a fundamental understanding of technology, but the regulations related to cyber security when cloud computing. California’s Formal Ethics Opinion No. 2015-193, lists nine tasks attorneys should be able to complete individually, with co-counsel, or through expert consultants, to competently represent clients. More states are developing similar, specific ethical requirements that, while directed at attorneys, may potentially apply to paralegals.
NALA or NFPA certified paralegals conduct must conform to the rules of professional responsibility for attorneys in the jurisdiction where they assist attorneys. Various states have their own specific requirements for paralegal education and competency too, in addition to attorney competency requirements. Paralegals must align themselves with the proper rules directly and indirectly governing paralegal ethics and professionalism in the jurisdictions where they assist attorneys.
To continue reading this article by Angela D. Masciulli, CP, MPS, click here.
To learn more about Angela’s experience and education, read her team member profile here.
- 04 Nov 2015
- Paralegal Resources