Ethics Is Only 1/5 of What Lawyers Need to Know For A Digital & Dynamic Practice

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 1.13.58 AMLike law, the energy and utility industry where I spend my days has traditionally been heavily regulated.  What that means is that rules for participants or relief for consumers come by way of regulatory commissions rather than statute or contract. But that model changed when utilities dipped their toes into social media where as this slide (from one of my presentations) whimsically illustrates, regulation accounts for only one fifth of the authority that companies must abide.

Likewise, as legal technology advancements enable more digital and dynamic law practices, lawyers cannot depend on legal ethics alone to govern our conduct. Instead, now that we lawyers are playing in the real world of digital commerce, we’re subject to real laws on deceptive advertising, data breach disclosures, customer privacy  (for firms that harvest big data), independent contractor laws  (for lawyers who rely on freelance help) and terms of service  (for anyone engaging social media or other third party platforms).  

Nearly every jurisdiction with mandatory CLE requires a course on legal ethics.  Heck, that’s something lawyers actually learned in law school. What lawyers need more and what the bars don’t offer (because after all, it would acknowledge their loss of relevance) is training on the other 4/5ths of what today’s lawyers need to know to survive.