Judges and state bars have had various things to say about the technological competence of lawyers, but so far, only one state bar includes technology training as part of a lawyer’s CLE requirements. Perhaps not surprisingly, given that their bar association is just so dang social media savvy, the one state is Florida.
However, two more states may soon be adding their names to the list of places where lawyers are going to be required to take continuing legal technology education. Those states are North Carolina and Pennsylvania. That is, unless the lawyers in those states take action soon.
No state ethics rules actually require that you keep up with the latest and greatest that legal tech has to offer. But, there are certainly certain technological competencies required of counsel that wish to practice in court. One of the big ones is the use of email and e-filing, as well as being able to navigate court websites to pull down tentative orders.
Frankly, to be able to practice these days in some jurisdictions, lawyers need to be technologically competent enough to use a web-browser, word processor, and email. While there is so much more that tech has to offer the modern lawyer, those are the bare minimum requirements if you’re going to practice.
While continuing legal technology education is not required except in Florida (for the time being), many CLE providers already have legal technology offerings where regular CLE credit is provided. Frequently these tech CLEs will focus on how to use tech in the courtroom as part of your presentation, but this may be one of the least important tech areas lawyers need to be learning about.
In these modern times, cybersecurity for lawyers and law firms should be a required annual training, regardless of CLE eligibility. Both lawyers and clients are exposed to risks on the internet, and if you don’t know how to avoid, manage, and mitigate those risks, you may want to consider getting some training, or upping your insurance coverage.
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