Florida Becomes First State To Mandate Tech CLE

Talk about burying the lede. On Friday, I reported that Florida had become the 25th state to adopt the duty of technology competence for lawyers. That was notable news, for sure, but I skipped over the even-bigger story — the same rule change also made Florida the first state to mandate technology CLE for lawyers.

The rule change, ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida on Thursday, added a requirement that Florida lawyers must complete three hours of CLE every three years “in approved technology programs.” The rule raises the state’s minimum credit hours from 30 to 33 to accommodate the tech requirement.

The changes take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. (See my prior post for the full text of the Supreme Court’s order.)

The requirement of mandatory tech CLE came at the urging of The Florida Bar, whose Board of Governors endorsed the mandate in July 2015.

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.”