Cornell Law Review


Law and technology


Lawyers are highly educated and, allegedly, of higher than average intelligence, but sometimes individual lawyers demonstrate colossal errors in judgment, especially when insufficiently trained in the new and emerging risks involved with the technological age. For instance, although the internet is a necessary tool for attorneys' and is now a prominent feature in the everyday lives of all actors in the legal system, this technology poses particularized and often unanticipated risks of professional and ethical abuse -- risks that are extraordinary both in quantity and intensity. As Harvard's Director of the Center for the Legal Profession warned: We are "only at the forefront of seeing the kind of changes that technology is likely to bring to legal practice," and these changes will "have a profound effect on how we think about regulating lawyers." Unfortunately, the American Bar Association (ABA) missed an opportunity it had with its own Ethics 20/20 Commission to address meaningful changes in the practice of law wrought by technology. However, the opportunities for unethical and unprofessional behavior in the use of electronic communications and storage cannot be ignored. This Article assesses the risks of technology abuse and proposes a scheme for addressing the professional and ethical problems that have and will continue to accompany the shift to digital lawyering.