The Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia have voted to approve proposed changes to the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct that would adopt the duty of technology competence. The proposed changes will now be published for a 30-day comment period and then submitted for approval to the Georgia Supreme Court.

To date, 37 states have formally adopted some version of the ABA model rule on technology competence, which makes clear that lawyers have a duty to be competent not only in the law and its practice, but also in technology.

As approved by the Board of Governors, Comment 6 to Rule 1.1 of Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct, governing competence, would be amended to follow Rule 1.1, Comment 8, of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Georgia’s Comment 6 would read:

“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

According to Paula Frederick, general counsel to the State Bar, the next step towards approval is for the proposed changes to be published on the state bar’s website for 30 days for public comment. After that, the bar will present them to the Supreme Court, requesting their approval.

The proposed rule should be published sometime this week, bar officials told me. The version as approved by the Board of Governors can be seen in the board’s meeting book starting at page 27.