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Canadian lawyers consider technological competence requirements

19 April 2017

Canada's Federation of Law Societies is consulting on proposed changes to its Model Code of Professional Conduct which would counsel lawyers on the need for technological competence appropriate for their own practice area and circumstances.

The proposed amendment to the commentary on the Model Code would add the following paragraph:

"[5A] To maintain the required level of competence, a lawyer should develop and maintain a facility with technology relevant to the nature and area of the lawyer’s practice and responsibilities. A lawyer should understand the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, recognizing the lawyer’s duty to protect confidential information ...".

The consultation was launched at the beginning of February and closes on 30 May 2017. The Federation says technological issues are not currently specifically addressed in the Model Code.

"Given the proliferation of technology, the proposed amendment has been drafted to counsel members of the legal profession on the need for technological competence appropriate for their own practice area."

Each of Canada's law societies enforces a code of conduct for members of the legal profession in its jurisdiction.

The Federation's Model Code of Professional Conduct has been implemented by a number of law societies and is under review by others.  The Federation believes that over time any significant differences in rules of conduct across Canada will be eliminated.

The Federation is the national coordinating body for Canada's 14 provincial and territorial law societies, which regulate over 117,000 lawyers and 12,500 notaries and paralegals.

The consultation process is wide-ranging, focusing on the legal profession, the judiciary, government justice agencies, the Canadian Bar Association, legal ethics commentators and interested members of the public.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019