Florida Bar Considers Tech Savvy CLE Requirement

The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on July 24th and approved new language that adds technological know how to the definition of competence and an additional CLE requirement of 3 credits of  technology courses during every three year reporting cycle. The Florida Bar News reports that the new language in the comment to Florida’s Bar Rule  4-1.1 on competence would not only include language from the ABA Model Rule comment that lawyers must have“an understanding of the benefits and risks associated with the use of technology,” but would also add:

 “Competent representation may also involve the association or retention of a non-lawyer advisor of established technological competence in the field in question. Competent representation also involves safeguarding confidential information relating to the representation, including, but not limited to, electronic transmissions and communications.”

The addition of 3 CLE technology credits to the current requirement of 30 credits every three years is controversial. The original proposal was for an additional 6 credits of technology education–one more than the 5 ethics credits that are now required.  Some lawyers oppose both the additional credits and what they believe to be a paternalistic approach to dictating the need to learn technology in CLE courses.  The younger lawyers contend that they possess the knowledge and the older lawyers claim to have competent assistance available to deal with technology issues.

The Florida Supreme Court will be the final arbiter as both the proposed new comment to Rule 4-1.1 and the new CLE requirement must be approved by the Court.

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