Technology plays an ever-increasing role in the practice of law. To the extent that a lack of competence presents a practice-related issue, then it falls within the LSO’s mandate to address that issue, but in the absence of such an issue, the willingness or ability of lawyers to use technology to service their clients ought not to be a concern of the LSO.
We need to embrace technology but remember that our main goal is to serve our clients with integrity and knowledge. If AI makes legal service more affordable and expeditious we need to move forward with that. Ignoring AI is foolish
Lawyers should be encouraged to use technology in order to deliver better services more cost effectively. They should not be compelled to use new technologies, however, especially where, given their age and stage, such compulsion would impair their ability to provide competent legal advice or services. Rather, they should be encouraged to learn the capabilities of new technologies and to apply them where they can (having regard to the means and needs of their clients). In short, this is a matter for CPD credits rather than lawyer regulation.
We need to support lawyers and firms to be technologically competent, and be sure the profession is fit for 21st century practice.
Not sure what is meant by duty here. Tech is an important part of promoting adaptation to legal services delivery.
Lawyers should strive to keep up to date with technology. If they don’t develop at minimum basic electronic communication and internet use skills, they will be left behind. But I do not agree that the LSO should be requiring lawyers to develop technological skills. If desired, lawyers can function competently in an environment filled with paper, though there is no doubt that a lawyer ensconced in paper will not be as productive or efficient as the lawyer who takes advantage of technology. There may come a day when lawyers will have no choice but to engage in email communication and other technological advances. But that day has not yet arrived. We should accept that there are still many lawyers in Ontario who have given great service to our profession, who are not yet willing to embrace technology. They have the right to make that choice.
I’m not sure that a rule change is required but we will be looking at this issue in the next bencher term.
I support it as a statement of what lawyers should be required to know, but do not support it as a new area for disciplinary measures. It is a useful goal and the LSO should assist lawyers in reaching it by providing free CPDs aimed at lawyers who need to develop this area of their practices.
There is a duty to stream-line costs to the client and this can be assisted by online form preparation and online research tools. I believe that it is a licensees personal choice to pay for storage and print out paper and not embrace the cloud. Especially when it comes to compliance with the LSO, more members feel comfortable in the system they have then to try new ideas and or switch over to a cloud based system. Fear of lack of compliance or lack of understanding as to what the LSO would accept or reject goes a long way as to how firms are managed.
Technological competence will becoming increasingly more important with the advancement of artificial intelligence. Having said that, we should consider the impact regulation will have on sole proprietors and lawyers in small firms before implementing direct regulation over this matter. Lawyers who require technology to streamline their practice will learn and use the technology. Lawyers who don’t require it won’t. Lawyers can still competently render legal services without the assistance of technology.
I support the inclusion of a duty of technological competence in the Rules of Professional Conduct.
I believe that technological advancements have created a number of significant challenges and have changed the way we practice law. Technological advancements have changed the legal profession in a positive way by streamlining various aspects of court process from filing materials to appearing in court.
However, the widespread use of technology has also led to cybersecurity and privacy concerns with respect sensitive client information. Technology has also changed the way and the speed at which we communicate with clients and with our peers. The immediacy of communication has put a heavier burden on lawyers to manage client expectations and has increased client demands for immediate results and responses. I believe that developing strategies to address the changing legal landscape due to technological advancements and ensuring lawyers are technologically competent will be a major issue facing our profession for the foreseeable future.
This should be left to the market.
Why would the LSO have to obligate lawyer to become competent with technology? It goes without saying that technology has changed the practice of law. I need to adapt or get left behind. Do I really need a rule to tell me to adapt and be competent?
There should be no duty. The LSO should not be delving into the technological competence of Licensees just as much as it should not be concerned with the keyboarding or handwriting competence of Licensees.
I support the inclusion of a duty of technological competence in the Rules of Professional Conduct. But this is more symbolic than effective. Competence, including technological competence, is not assured by conduct rules.
LSO needs to work with lawyers to adapt technology for the practice of law. Change is happening and those who adapt to the changing expectations of clients do better. LSO can provide opportunities to lawyers to make sure the practicing bar is ready for change.
Technological competence is of unquestionable relevance as technology (be it through AI or otherwise) becomes increasingly integral to the profession. With the omnipresence of electronic searching and registration, this shift has already become imperative within the real estate bar, and one is effectively unable to practice without it. I am not certain that there is (or will be) a one-size-fits-all approach that would encompass a universal professional “duty” given the many ways technology integrates into different areas of practice, so I would express reservations about proceeding with an eye to a universal regulatory solution (at least in the immediate future). But practitioners are prejudicing themselves (and potentially their clients) if they fail to keep up with technology. I believe LSO has an evolving role in supporting professional competence to this end.
There should be a call for all of us to recognize the increasingly important role technology plays in the practice of law. An inability to use basic technology for communication, document preparation and research is no longer acceptable.
Licensees have a responsibility to provide the public with legal services at a cost that they can afford no matter their income level. Therefore, each licensee has an obligation to be proficient in the use of technology.
Technology competence already forms part of our general duty of competence and our duty to provide efficient and accessible legal services. The LSO needs to update the commentary to make this clear.
The LSO also needs to provide clear guidance to lawyers in this area – as is done in the United States.
Technological competence should be something fostered through ongoing CPD programs.
I agree with Doug Judson, we need to remove the word ‘fax’ from our professional lexicon and move the legal profession into this century. This is an important access to justice issue too.
Our profession is facing societal and technological upheavals, i.e. New service models, AI, big data and block chain technologies. These developments present opportunities for lawyers, clients and the administration of justice but also carry risk. They require new skill, new standards, and adapted best practices. The LSO needs to proactively guide the profession through this evolving landscape and develop the appropriate regulatory framework and member support.
Legal service providers have an obligation to keep up with technology in order to provide the public with the best legal services available
Lawyers should adapt to technological change in order to render competent, efficient and cost effective services. The LSO is engaged already with the Technology Task Force, and its continued consultation with the profession should be given priority. The LSO should ultimately be developing standards of competency related to specific areas of practice and types of practices, and conveying expectations to the profession through supports, training and CPD credits similar to EDI.
There is an obligation to be technologically competent. However, we need to start to define what that minimum criteria is. We also need to make sure that it does not result in further regulation that places a signiificant burden on the membership. One way of addressing this is to require or encourage CPD programming providers to incorporate technology competency in their programming to get accreditation.
This issue is being studied a the LSO Task Force on Technology.
The Law Society must take the lead to ensure that its membership understands and embraces new technologies. As a profession, we must understand new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and embrace and leverage them in order to become better service providers for our clients. In terms of the regulation of new technologies, we must ensure that we understand that there will be a need to regulate some of these new technologies, to ensure that we adequately protect and serve the public. In addition, we must ensure that new technologies are accessible across our membership, including to small firm practitioners. We must provide resources and advocate to make these new technologies accessible.
“Technology” is no longer an industry, or a silo within a company. Technology pervades our lives. Making use of software is an essential part of efficient delivery of legal services.
Legal professionals must meet appropriate standards of competence, conduct and learning.
A must in 2019.
We are looking at this, and I would support it.
Lawyers do need to have competence in this area.
Yes. This will increase in importance as AI and legal tech make their way further into the practice of law.
Adaptation to technological requirements of tools necessary in any area of law (not only conveyances) is vital for ensuring both the competency, efficiency and relevancy of services delivered. Adopting new technology must be done with appropriate diligence and there should be a basic level of awareness, understanding and facility in relevant technologies that are common within a domain of practice. Ignorance of common technological tools by lawyers in Ontario will both prejudice the quality of service for clients and will diminish the level of services delivered. LSO oversight of compliance with technology competence should be one factor among several in the consideration of delivery of competent services.
To say the LSO missed the boat on this one would be an understatement. Given a picture of a unicorn and a computer (both far too rare in Ontario’s legal landscape), I shudder to think of how many Bencher’s could correctly distinguish the former from the latter….
The LSO was founded in 1797. Its licensees shouldn’t be allowed to practice like they are stuck there. The LSO needs to impose professional standards that make service to clients more efficient and less costly as part of our commitment to facilitating access to legal services.
(TL;DR? I want to see the word “fax” excised from our professional lexicon.)
Yes, there should be a stated objective requirement for lawyers to be technologically competent in Ontario for 2020 and beyond. The internet is full of evil traps and bad intentioned people. Here is another BIG area that LSO can reach out to help lawyers become better in practicing law and thereby serve the public of Ontario in better fashion.
We should deliberate very carefully before we impose another potentially onerous set of requirments on small firm and solo practitioners, particularly those
Technological competence of practitioners is something which the Law Society should facilitate through aid in each lawyer’s commitment to lifelong learning. It cannot be enforced. We can also be assured that pressures on lawyers in the marketplace to compete will force lawyers to embrace new technologies otherwise they will not survive.
I trust lawyers to learn technology to the degree they feel necessary for their own practice. This is yet another example of the LSO interfering with businesses and lawyers’ practices that is empty, overreaching, and ineffective. Lawyers who need tech will embrace it, lawyers who don’t won’t. Lawyers who are negligent will be held accountable as per the normal course. The last thing we need is more oversight on how to use email.
The way we practice law is changing rapidly. To continue to provide competent representation to our clients, with the necessary legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation that meet the standards of competent practitioners, we must all take reasonable steps to understand the effect of technology on legal representation. As technology has evolves, so too does the concept of competence, therefore, as a profession, we have a duty to keep up-to-date.
There should be no such new duty imposed by The Law Society. Let the practice exigencies of a lawyer or paralegal continue to dictate whether and to what extent that individual decides to invest time and/or money on technology competence. Also, beware of any trend that elevates process over substance.
The LSO should provide educational avenues for lawyers to increase their technological competence. However, I disagree with a duty. This would be unfair to older practicing lawyers. There are still libraries and those who are not technologically proficient can still keep up to date and serve their clients well. It could also impose unfair burdens on small firms and sole practitioners.
The LSO should provide clear guidelines and resources that allow practitioners to respond to client expectations. Cyber security should be an integral component of any training in the field of technology.
We must embrace technology and ensure the LSO offers continuing education necessary to maintaining competence within the profession.
Technological competence should have already been achieved with a basic undergraduate degree.
LSO should consider CPD credit for skill development that can enhance access to justice, e.g. training in “digital literacy” skills including social media, web site development, podcasting, and media interaction skills;
As Chair of both the Technology Task Force and the Professional Regulation Committee at the LSO, I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to comment on this issue at this time.
I support a basic duty of technology competence. Basic technological literacy is an indispensable part of delivering legal services to clients in the modern era. Je soutiens un devoir de compétence technologique de base. Cela est nécessaire afin de livrer les services juridiques aujourd`hui.
In today’s day and age, I do believe that the public expects a minimal level of technological competence. The profession has evolved technologically and so should its practitioners. The LSO can provide clear expectations and resources to ensure that licensees are competent to practise law in 2019.
There must be a base line. I would suggest that it the ability to send and receive email, faxes and Data is a reasonable base line.
No such duty need exist, unless, of course, a lawyer holds out that he/she is competent in the use of technology.
If the nature of a potential client’s need for advice or services is such that the lawyer acting for said client would reasonably be presumed to have such competence, then it is the duty of the lawyer to promptly disabuse the prospective client of that expectation, should technology competence not be within that practitioner’s skill-set.