Over a year ago, Florida became the first state to adopt mandatory technology competence education. As a result, Florida lawyers must complete three hours of technology-related CLE for every three-year reporting period. Since then, the rest of the country has been slow to adopt mandatory technology training for lawyers.
However, this spring, The North Carolina State Bar Council adopted an amendment to the state’s annual CLE requirement. This new amendment requires North Carolina lawyers to complete one credit hour devoted to “technology training” each year.
The amendments to the rules in 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1500 and Section .1600 defines technology training as a “program, or segment of a program devoted to education on information technology (IT) or cybersecurity, including education on an information technology product, device, platform, application, or other tool, process, or methodology”.
To be approved for CLE credit as technology training program, the CLE must satisfy the accreditation standards defined in Rule .1519 and ultimately increase the participant’s professional competence and proficiency as a lawyer.
These technology training programs should include education surrounding the following topic areas:
- an IT tool, process, or methodology designed to perform tasks that are specific or uniquely suited to the practice of law;
- using a generic IT tool process or methodology to increase the efficiency of performing tasks necessary to the practice of law;
- the investigation, collection, and introduction of social media evidence;
- electronic filing of legal documents;
- digital forensics for legal investigation or litigation; and
- practice management software
A CLE program that provides general instruction on an IT tool, process, or methodology but does not include instruction on the practical application to the practice of law won’t be approved for credit. So, for example, generic education on subject matters like using your laptop computer, Microsoft office, or Adobe software will not be approved for credit.
Currently, the new CLE requirement is still pending the approval of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The court is expected to review the amendment later this year. If adopted, the rule would go into effect in North Carolina in 2019.