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Florida Becomes First State to Require Technology CLE: eDiscovery Trends

OK, I may have taken a couple of shots at Florida last Thursday over their ballot issues in elections over the years.  However, Florida deserves credit in being the first state to require technology CLE for lawyers.

The rule change, among others proposed by the Florida Bar and ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida on Thursday states:

“We amend subdivision (b) (Minimum Hourly Continuing Legal Education Requirements) to change the required number of continuing legal education credit hours over a three-year period from 30 to 33, with three hours in an approved technology program.”

In that same order, Florida also became the 25th state to order adoption of the duty of tech competence for that state, stating:

“The comment to rule 4-1.1 (Competence) is amended to add language providing that competent representation may involve a lawyer’s association with, or retention of, a non-lawyer advisor with established technological competence in the relevant field. Competent representation may also entail safeguarding confidential information related to the representation, including electronic transmission and communications. Additionally, we add language to the comment providing that, in order to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education, including an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with the use of technology.”

The changes become effective on January 1, 2017.

As reported Monday on his Law Sites blog (Florida Becomes First State To Mandate Tech CLE), Bob Ambrogi notes that the mandate was first recommended by the Technology Subgroup of the Florida Bar’s Vision 2016 commission, which was chaired by Vero Beach lawyer John M. Stewart.

“If you are going to be competent in the practice of law, you have to understand technology related to your practice area,” Stewart told The Florida Bar News in 2015. “How do you do that? Through association — you hire an expert to associate with — or through study.”

The change was a surprisingly easy sell, Stewart told Victor Li at the ABA Journal. “I think everyone recognized that lawyers could benefit from more education, both when it comes to technology and in general.”

So, what do you think?  Will other states follow suit and require technology CLE as well?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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