Technology has permeated the legal practice in a myriad of ways, but the need to find and understand tech standards takes on added importance in the legal community when those standards are incorporated into court rules. Once a tech skill becomes a rule, lawyers who ignore it may not simply be risking inefficiency or losing a client's business, they may be risking their ability to practice (see, e.g., Okla. Bar Ass'n v. Oliver, 369 P.3d 1074 (Okla. 2016)). For that reason, Texas attorneys may want to familiarize themselves with the Supreme Court of Texas Judicial Committee on Information Technology Standards (JCIT Tech Standards).
As a case in point, take a look at the reference to the JCIT Tech Standards incorporated into Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 21(f)(8) by administrative order of the Supreme Court of Texas (Misc. Docket No. 13-9165 pdf). Subparagraph (D) provides that "[a] electronically filed document must:"
otherwise comply with the Technology Standards set by the Judicial Committee on Information Technology and approved by the Supreme Court.
Drilling down into the JCIT Tech Standards, one finds specific requirements from the type of software used to create PDFs to the applicable ISO compliance standard for efiled documents. Regarding requirements for scanned PDF documents, §3.1(C) provides:
Prior to being filed electronically, a scanned document must have a resolution of 300 DPI.
Incorporation of these standards into the Rules of Civil Procedure strongly suggests that legal tech competency has moved from recommended to required.
Where can attorneys turn to keep up with emerging tech competencies? Your local law library can help. Public and academic law libraries can assist with research into the rules governing required tech skills. Many also collect resources covering specific software used in the legal profession, like the resources in our Legal Tech Collection that include ABA publications on Adobe Acrobat, MS Word, and more. Some law libraries even offer legal tech classes. The Harris County Law Library's Legal Tech Institute offers free CLE on a variety of topics, including MS Word for Legal Work in which attorneys can learn how to create the type of PDF referenced in the JCIT Tech Standards. Visit our website and keep following our Tech Tuesday posts to learn more!