The Duty of Tech Competence & AI

The use of artificial intelligence has many potential pitfalls regarding attorney professional responsibility rules. One such pitfall concerns the duty of technology competence.

imagesAs Robert Ambrogi points out over on Law Sites, a majority of states have now adopted the duty of technology competence for lawyers – first noted in Comment 8 to ABA Model Rule 1.1.

The ABA version states:
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. (Emphasis added.)

While the states may differ in the exact language of their rules, these rules will likely have an ongoing effect on a lawyer’s duty to learn various aspects of ever-changing technology.

Down the road, there may be a time when attorneys must know and understand how artificial intelligence works to be able to rely on technology to perform the more sophisticated functions of law practice.

As lawyers begin to use ROSS, say, to perform legal research or even draft simple memos, it is not unreasonable to presume that a lawyer would need to understand how ROSS decided a particular issue to have true algorithmic accountability. Because a technology like ROSS cannot be subject to the same professional responsibility rules as a living, breathing lawyer, it is up to the lawyer to maintain a duty of technological competence to understand and vet the work of the software.

This is tricky because we are currently at a point where most algorithms are proprietary and there is little transparency about the results that are generated. It is unlikely that this competing issue with be resolved anytime soon.

Until such time when the AI developers release the very decision trees for how an algorithm came to a particular result, law librarians will be helpful in teaching lawyers to understand the current state of AI technology. During our legal research instruction, we should offer pointers to lawyers on the results generated and how to spot possible issues, such as bias.

Ethics and Law Libraries

Sources from the Bible and Confucius to Shakespeare and Dickens, among countless others, have had negative things to say about lawyers. There is even a term, pettifogger, that means a “lawyer whose methods are petty, underhanded, or disreputable.”  Perhaps beaconSaul Goodman (aka Jimmy McGill), the often shady attorney in the current TV series Better Call Saul comes to mind.

Standing firm in the midst of the stinging criticism of lawyers are law libraries–mighty beacons for the rule of law and ethical conduct.  The tradition of law libraries has been to make our great legal system–and its accompanying ethical directives, such as Justinian’s edict to “[l]ive honestly, hurt no one, and render to every one his due”–available to both professionals and laypeople.  These are guiding principles that serve as the underpinnings of contemporary legal ethics.

Want to learn more about Justinian and other ethical directives that form the fundamental basis of today’s Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct?  For information and resources on the rule of law and legal ethics, visit or contact the Texas Tech University School of Law Library.

Organizing Information Overload

Welcome back to the start of a new school year!  This is easily one of our favorite times of the year.  Everyone is excited to get started with the new school year, everything is new and exciting, and we are faced with lots of new information.

Sometime information overload can be difficult to manage, especially starting a new field of study (like law school) or a new class in a new area of knowledge.  It can be helpful to know that there are five primary ways of organizing information, according to The Visual Communication Guy.  Here is a quick summary of these organization types:

  1. Location – A visual depiction of where something is located in a physical space, like a street address, a mall map, or other visual depictions.
“Map” by NellsPhotography on Flickr.
  1. Alphabet – Simply; A, B, C, etc… If you can remember the Alphabet Song, you are in great shape. Here, good examples are a dictionary or an index.
“Alphabet” by Jim Swenson on Flickr.
  1. Time – A look at something over a period of time to see changes, or look at a cycle or process. Some examples would be a chart showing the timeline of a crime, or a flowchart to remember the steps in a process.
“timeline” by maria jb on Flickr
  1. Category – This is a very all-purpose method; if you can find a way that items are related, they can be categorized. An easy way is by color, size, subject (Library of Congress subject headings), and any other number of ways.
“books arranged by color!” by monster town on Flickr.
  1. Hierarchy – Shows rank or order of importance; oldest to youngest, shortest to tallest, lightest to heaviest are good examples. One example would be a family tree.
“Books” by Phallnn Ool on Flickr.

How is this helpful to you in law school? Here are some ways organization can impact you here at law school.

The Law Library uses organization by category when we catalog books using the Library of Congress system.  Our books are arranged by letter and number which are hierarchical in nature since they go from “A” to “Z.”  Most law books are in the “K” classification and they are in number order from smallest “1” to highest “9999.” Our study guides, found behind the Circulation Desk, are organized by study aid series and then by subject matter.

Organization can also help impact how you’re studying.  You could potentially organize your notes alphabetically, by date, by a particular process (using something like a flowchart to remember what analytical steps to go through), by subject.

Remember, if you start getting overwhelmed by information, organize it using one of these five methods.

Fall 2017 Excellence in Legal Research Program Classes

Did you realize while out clerking this summer that your legal research skills are lackluster or at least that you need to solidify certain skills?  Do you want to bolster your resume and show employers you have the skills they’re looking for?  The law school’s Excellence in Legal Research Program is here to help!

To participate in the program, students must complete 20 hours of instruction over the course of their law school career.  Students are eligible to register beginning in the spring of their 1L year.  Students take 6 required courses to cement the foundational skills they learn in our Legal Practice research workshops, and then can take any eight hours of additional classes.  There are lots of offerings in Texas specific sources, as well as in specialized resources, such as legislative histories, practice and litigation materials, and current awareness.  For more on the program, see the ELR Program website.

To register for the program, contact Prof. Drake at Then, you’ll be able to register for individual sessions via Blackboard.

Here’s what we’re offering this fall!

ELR schedule fall 2017


Bloomberg BNA Labor and Employment Law Resource Center: What is it?

This is the first in a four part series blog post spotlighting Bloomberg BNA’s Labor and Employment Law Resource Center.

Bloomberg BNA Labor and Employment Law Resource Center is a database that focuses on seven main areas of employment law, including disabilities law; discrimination law; individual employment rights; labor arbitration and collective bargaining; labor relations; occupational safety; and wages, hours & leave. This hub can connect you with primary sources of labor law, practice tools, BNA manuals, labor and employment news, professional learning opportunities, upcoming events, latest cases, and valuable Bloomberg Law Insights from practitioners.

All seven of the focus areas can be found on the upper left side of the database to sort your search, and they can also be accessed at the top of the page through their individual tabs.

employment home page

To stay updated on labor and employment related breaking news, check out the Daily Labor Report found in the first tab at the top of the page, or look in the right side column to preview the Daily Labor Report headlines.

Below is the view selected under the first tab.

employment 1

If you select one of the seven tabs at the top of the database, the related headlines from the Daily Labor Report will display on the upper left side.

employment 2

For quick searches of the entire database, utilize the middle search column. Here you can directly search for case law, U.S.C. sections, and CFRs, or select to be directed to the advanced search tool. The advanced search tool allows you to select types of sources to be searched, use specific search terms, sort by added fields, and limit the dates, as well as displays a guide of search connector terms.

employment 3

Access to Bloomberg/BNA Banking Report database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.

July 2017 New Books

In July 2017, the Law Library added the following new titles to the collection to support the research and curricular needs of our faculty and students.


  1. Sarah E. Redfield, ed., Enhancing Justice: reducing bias (2017).


  1. Timothy M. Ravich, Commercial Drone Law: digest of U.S. and global UAS rules, policies, and practices (2017).


  1. Jesse Eisinger, The Chickenshit Club: why the Justice Department fails to prosecute executives (2017).


  1. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc., 24 Tips for Teaching Writing (2017).


  1. William E. Nelson, The Common Law in Colonial America: The Middle Colonies and the Carolinas, 1660-1730 (2016).
  2. G. Edward White, Law in American History (2012).


  1. Gary P. Bauer, Solo Lawyer by Design: a plan for success in any practice (2017).
  2. Jocelyn K. Glei, Unsubscribe: how to kill email anxiety, avoid distractions, and get real work done (2016).
  3. Jo Ellen Dardick Lewis, Telling Your Story: a step-by-step guide to drafting persuasive legal resumes and cover letters (2017).


  1. Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan, and Joseph R. Matthews, Getting Started with Evaluation (2014).
  2. Robert E. Dugan, Peter Hernon, and Danuta A. Nitecki, Viewing Library Metrics from Different Perspectives: inputs, outputs, and outcomes (2009).
  3. Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan, and Joseph R. Matthews, Managing with Data: using ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics (2015).
  4. John M. Budd, Six Issues Facing Libraries Today: critical perspectives (2017).
  5. John Palfrey, BiblioTech: why libraries matter more than ever in the age of Google (2015).
  6. R. David Lankes, Expect More: demanding better libraries for today’s complex world (2016).
  7. Beth McNeil, Fundamentals of Library Supervision (2017).
  8. Masanori Koizumi, Inherent Strategies in Library Management (2017).
  9. Yago S. Cura and Max Macias, eds., Librarians with Spines: information agitators in an age of stagnation (2017).


  1. Pietro S. Nivola and David W. Brady, eds., Red and Blue Nation?: characteristics and causes of America’s polarized politics (2013).


  1. Todd C. Peppers, with Margaret A. Anderson, A Courageous Fool: Marie Deans and her struggle against the death penalty (2017).


  1. Vincent A. Gallagher, Worker Injury Third Party Cases: recognizing and proving liability (2017).

All of these books are available at the Law Library.  If you would like to check out any of these titles, please contact the circulation desk at either 806-742-3957 or