COVID-19 has forced us to re-evaluate how we interact at school, work, and even at home. Now more than ever, technological competency is essential for living our daily lives. In light of these changes, it is time that the Law Society of BC adds technological requirements to the Code of Professional Conduct.
Amy Salyzyn’s article It’s Finally (Sort Of) Here!: A Duty of Technological Competence for Canadian Lawyers outlined the pre-COVID addition to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada Model Code of Professional Conduct, which now includes a requirement for a level of technological competency. The Law Society of BC has yet to address a technological competency requirement.
According to current practice standards of the Law Society of BC, a lawyer must acquire and maintain adequate:
- knowledge of the substantive law;
- knowledge of the practice and procedures by which that substantive law can be effectively applied; and
- skills to represent the client’s interests effectively [emphasis added]
Some clients will never be available through Zoom; some may not own a cell phone. But that makes it even more critical for their lawyer to have the technological skills to represent them, especially with the move towards virtual court. It is up to lawyers to help them to the best of their abilities. The pandemic has brought about a host of new legal issues, like access to justice and privacy. Legal professionals should have the technological skills to respond and adapt to an uncertain future. The Law Society of BC should be encouraging this long-overdue growth.