In 2015, California attorneys received two reminders about the place of e-discovery competence in the ethical obligations of attorneys. The first was Formal Opinion No. 2015-193 of the Standing Committee On Professional Responsibility and Conduct of the California State Bar (“Committee Opinion”), and the second was the case of HM Electronics, Inc. v. R.F. Technologies, Inc. (S.D.Cal. 2015) 2015 WL 4714908 (“HM Electronics”).
The Committee Opinion opines that an attorney may violate ethical duties of competence by failing to understand and perform e-discovery skills. The Committee Opinion set out a list of nine e-discovery tasks that “attorneys handling e-discovery should be able to perform (either by themselves or in association with competent counsel or expert consultants).” In the HM Electronics opinion, Magistrate Judge Dembin cited with approval the Committee Opinion and its list of nine e-discovery skills for competence.