In today’s ever-changing world, new technology seems to emerge every day. What are the latest tools to help manage one’s practice? What are the legal ramifications of using the cloud to store confidential client data? There are so many things that attorneys need to worry about when it comes to technology, it can be hard to keep up. In a groundbreaking 2017 measure, Florida became the first state to impose a mandatory technology component of the MCLE requirement for attorneys.
What is the Technology requirement?
Every three years, attorneys must now complete a total of 33 credits, including three in Technology. This new requirement went into effect on January 1, 2017, so the credits are due in each member’s next reporting cycle following that effective date. In other words, if your CLE cycle ended in March 2017, you’ll need to do the Technology requirement for your new cycle ending March 2020.
What types of subjects are we talking about?
Many CLE topics today already touch on technology in some way or another. When it comes to determining whether or not a course will satisfy Florida’s specific Technology requirement, the main idea to keep in mind is whether or not it focuses on assisting lawyers in their practice of law. Examples of acceptable topic areas include:
- Legal research programs
- Office and document prep applications
- Litigation software
- File retention/storage applications
- Billing programs
- Communication tools
Courses can cover the “how to” for various pieces of technology, or can focus on laws about technology. For example, a course on a particular document preparation application might walk attorneys through the basics of how to use the software to prepare a brief, while a program on Cybersecurity could explain best practices to avoid data breaches.
What are some good Technology courses?
First and foremost, you need to find programs that have already been approved and accredited by the Florida Bar to fulfill the Technology requirement. Lawline has several such courses, including:
- Personal Injury Trials and Technology: A Plaintiff’s Perspective (Update) - Attorney Justin Blitz shows how to use technology during the trial of personal injury cases. Topics of discussion include effectively using technology for jury selection, openings and summations, demonstrative evidence at trial, and depositions and direct and cross examinations.
- Patent Eligibility of Software Innovations - Shahar Harel reviews the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank and explores the concepts of “abstract ideas” and “significantly more than” an abstract idea with an eye to understanding when software innovations are eligible for patent protection.
- Cyber Security 101 - DOD Contractor Compliance: Legal, Technical, and Accounting Perspectives - Hilary Cairnie and Heather Engle address the emerging cyber compliance requirements that are newly common to most federal contractors and subcontractors.
For more information about the Florida CLE rules, check out our CLE Requirements Page!
No matter your area of practice, technology is an increasingly important component of the legal field. While Florida is currently the only state to mandate technology competence in CLE, it’s certainly an area that any and all attorneys could benefit from learning more about.