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At the time this article was written, Michigan was one of 39 states that included understanding relevant technologies as a part of the duty of attorney competence. In 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court formally adopted a new comment to MRPC 1.1. With respect to competence as covered under this rule, their comment made explicit that all Michigan attorneys should “engage in continuing study and education, including the knowledge and skills regarding existing and developing technology that are reasonably necessary to provide competent representation for the client in a particular matter” [emphasis added].

In February 2020, the State Bar of Michigan issued ethics opinion RI-381 which held “lawyers have ethical obligations to understand technology, including cybersecurity, take reasonable steps to implement cybersecurity measures, supervise lawyer and other firm personnel to ensure compliance with duties relating to cybersecurity, and timely notify clients in the event of a material data breach.” The comment to MRPC 1.1 explicitly notes that the duty only exists to the extent that it is “reasonably necessary to provide competent representation for the client in a particular matter,” indicating that every attorney does not need to know about every technology used in every circumstance. Rather, attorneys should be aware of the technology they use in practice necessary for adequate representation. Staying up to date at a time when technologies are evolving at an exponential rate and knowing which technologies must be mastered is no simple task. Fortunately, there are many resources available to attorneys looking to boost their own and staff’s knowledge. Highlighted below are some of those resources.


Reproduced with permission.