Legal Ethics & Rules of Professional Conduct

Episode 23: Jim Doppke on the Ethics of Legal Tech (and the Duty to Supervise Robots)

Legal ethics attorney Jim Doppke returns for an encore appearance in Episode 23. Jim discusses the impact that legal tech and legal innovation have on the Rules of Professional Conduct and other rules that govern how lawyers practice law.

Jim explains how Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (Lawyer’s Duty of Competence) and  5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistance) are implicated by advances in legal technology and legal innovation. A comment to Rule 1.1 (and adopted by most states) says that as part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, lawyers must stay abreast of changes in technology.

Rule 5.3 states that lawyers must actively supervise “non-lawyer” assistance they engage to help out on legal matters. Historically, this meant that lawyers needed to supervise others lending them a hand–like a paralegal. However, Jim points out that the rule specifically relates to “assistance” and not just “assistants”.

This is significant, because certain legal tech, like artificial intelligence (AI), is really non-lawyer “assistance.”  So, as Jim points out, if lawyers are going to use AI, they must supervise the training of the algorithms to ensure accuracy, just like they are obligated to supervise the work of their paralegals and other assistants to make sure their work is accurate.

In a similar vein, Jim points out that as the use of ALSPs (alternative legal service providers) increases, there too is another situation in which lawyers must supervise work done by those who may not be attorneys.

Learn more about Jim.

Legal Tech Founder Segment: Jeffrey Eschbach of Page Vault

In the legal tech founder segment, we talk to Jeffrey Eschbach, the founder of Page Vault. Page Vault software permits users to capture webpages and social media for use in legal matters. The captures are forensically sound, delivered in pdf format and include vital metadata strengthening evidentiary value. 
 
 
 

Things we talk about in this episode:

Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Soundgarden

States Adopting Comment 8 to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1

AI – Artificial Intelligence

State Bar of California Request for Comment to Permit Investment in Law Firms by Non-Lawyers

Episode Credits

Editing and Production: Grant Blackstock

Theme Music: Home Base (Instrumental Version) by TA2MI

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Episode 1: Jim Doppke on Lawyers’ Duty of Technology Competence

In our inaugural episode, legal ethics attorney Jim Doppke of Chicago’s Robinson Law Group discusses changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct (ethics rules for lawyers) addressing the impact of technology on modern legal practice.

In 2012 the American Bar Association amended Comment 8 to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 (a lawyer’s duty of competence) in response to changes in technology. The Comment now suggests attorneys must understand “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” To date, more than twenty-five states require attorneys to stay abreast of changes in technology relating to law practice.

In this episode, Jim discusses the ethical obligations of attorneys to keep up with changes in legal technology and offers tips on how attorneys can begin to become for “technologically competent.”

 

Episode Credits:

Theme Music: Home Base (Instrumental Version) by TA2MI