Last fall, The Florida Bar declared it would be the first to mandate technology CLE for lawyers in the most appropriate fashion – in a tweet. The mandate came by way of a rule changed ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida on September 29, 2016. This change adds a requirement that all Florida lawyers must complete three hours of CLE every three years. The CLE must be in previously approved technology programs. The rule change increases the state’s minimum credit hour mandate from 30 to 33 and took effect January 1, 2017.
Importance of the Addition
The Supreme Court of Florida’s ruling makes Florida the 25th state to adopt a “duty of technology competence,” which is notable news in itself. Some other states that had already adopted the duty include most recently Colorado, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Washington, North Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Virginia, and Illinois.
What makes Florida’s change even more important is the state’s lead in mandating the technology CLE, going further than any other state in the union. The mandate came at the urging of the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, who endorsed the mandate back in the summer of 2015. The first to recommend the mandate was the Florida Bar’s Technology Subgroup.
In 2012 the American Bar Association (ABA) formally approved a change in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify a lawyer’s duty of competence not only in the practice of law, but also in its technology. The ABA’s changes, and the subsequent adoption by several state bars, imply a licensed attorney can not assess the benefits and risks associated with various technologies if he or she does not even know about the technology itself.
Technology and the Law
Information technology has become so intertwined in our daily lives as compared to decades ago. Common legal issues found within this area of the law include:
- The use of the internet in search engines, pornography, filtering and access;
- Ethical issues with databases including data mining, security, and privacy;
- Communications and content including social networks, emails, monitoring thereof;
- Internet gaming and violence, gender stereotyping, and addiction; and
- Emergent technology and e-waste, intellectual property, and software privacy.
Beyond the above, free speech also comes into play when the internet is involved. Some believe open communication is a fundamental guarantee, no matter the type of speech as long as it is protected, while others feel communication on the internet should be closely regulated for the greater good of society.
Seek Legal Help
If you or someone you know is having some technology-related legal issues, contact a skilled, knowledgeable, and tech savvy technology lawyer right away to explain your rights and obligations under current law.