An article by Joseph Howie inLaw Technology Newsargues that lawyers who do not become competent in working with electronic data may be committing malpractice. Fair enough. Since most records are now stored electronically, it is a necessity that attorneys understand how to retrieve and work with electronic databases. Furthermore, this article makes the valid point that better knowledge of how to work with computer records may actually save clients money, if it avoids duplication of effort in the form of expensive attorney time reviewing documents.
On the other hand, we can get carried away with electronic data. An industry has sprung up among computer experts who now call themselves litigation consultants, who sell their services in retrieving, coding and otherwise manipulating electronic data. These are the people who basically sponsor publications like Law Technology News. They have a vested interest in generating demand for their services, by creating the fear that unless we hire expensive computer consultants, attorneys may no longer be competent to try cases.