Category Archives: Florida lawyer CLE technology competence

ABA approves Model Rule revision requiring 1 hour of both substance abuse/mental health and diversity/inclusion CLE

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent vote by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates to approve a revision to the ABA Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education to require one (1) hour of substance abuse and mental health CLE every three years, and one (1) hour of diversity and inclusion CLE every 3 years.

At the ABA’s recent meeting in Miami, the House of Delegates approved changes to the Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education requiring one hour of substance abuse and mental health CLE every three years, along with mandatory diversity and inclusion CLE. The decision to approve the revision was unanimous and there was no debate.

The rule revisions were sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education and its Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and resulted from a multiyear review of the continuing legal education model rule by special committee. The Model Rule had not been updated since 1988.

The revisions were approved about one year after a study by the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation concluded that lawyers suffer substance abuse and mental health problems at higher rates than other professions/industries. The study found that 21 percent of licensed lawyers qualify as problem drinkers; 19 percent have symptoms of anxiety; and 28 percent show signs of depression. The study also found that lawyers in their first decade of practice were more likely to face these issues.

According to media reports, administrators of lawyer assistance programs across the country endorsed the mandatory requirement and stated that it will remove the stigma lawyers might face for voluntarily attending mental health and substance abuse sessions.  There was apparently a concern that lawyers who attend such CLEs will be assumed to be struggling with the issues; however, if it is mandatory, no one will make that assumption.

The revised Model Rule also requires one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE every three years which may include information about implicit bias or how to improve diversity in the legal profession.

The revised Model Rule is advisory only and each jurisdiction has its own CLE requirements.  Currently, most jurisdictions do not require lawyers to obtain CLE credits for programs specifically related mental health and substance abuse. Three states currently require attorneys to complete specific diversity and inclusion programs.

Florida currently requires 33 credit hours of CLE every 3 years and 5 of the 33 credit hours must be in legal ethics, professionalism, bias elimination, substance abuse, or mental illness awareness programs.  3 of the 33 credit hours must be in approved technology programs.  These hours are included in, not in addition to, the regular 33 credit hour requirement. Excess CLE credits cannot be carried over to the next reporting cycle.

Bottom line: The revised ABA Model Rule requiring 1 hour of substance abuse and mental health and one (1) hour of diversity and inclusion CLE every 3 years does not apply unless a jurisdiction adopts it in its CLE rules.  Each lawyer should consult the CLE rules in his or her own jurisdiction.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

29605 U.S. Highway 19 N., Suite 150

Clearwater, Florida 33761

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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Filed under 2017 ABA Model Rules required CLE for substance abuse and diversity and inclusion, ABA lawyer required CLE substance abuse and diversity, Attorney Ethics, Florida 2017 increase in CLE hour requirments, Florida lawyer 2017 technology CLE requirments, Florida lawyer CLE technology competence, Florida lawyer continuing legal education technology and increase in hours, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism

Florida Supreme Court adds three hours of technology to lawyer’s mandatory CLE requirements and increases total hours from 30 to 33

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida which approved proposed changes to Florida Bar rules mandating three hours of continuing legal education in technology related areas/courses.  Florida will become the first state to mandate technology CLE.  The opinion is In Re: Amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar 4-1.1 and 6-10.3, No. SC16-574 (September 29, 2016) and is here:  http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2016/sc16-574.pdf. The rule amendments will become effective on January 1, 2017.

The opinion adopted the recommendations of the The Florida Bar’s Vision 2016 Commission’s Technology Subcommittee.  The revision to rule 6-10.3 increases the CLE requirements for Florida lawyers from 30 to 33 hours of credit every three years and three hours must be in technology related areas/courses.

The opinion also amended the comment to rule 4-1.1 (Competence) “to add language providing that competent representation may involve a lawyer’s association with, or retention of, a non-lawyer advisor with established technological competence in the relevant field. Competent representation may also entail safeguarding confidential information related to the representation, including electronic transmissions and communications. Additionally, we add language to the comment providing that, in order to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education, including an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with the use of technology.”

Bottom line: Beginning in January 2017, lawyers will be required to obtain 33 hours of CLE every 3 years (up from 30) with a minimum of three hours in technology related areas/courses.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

29605 U.S. Highway 19 N. Suite 150

Clearwater, Florida 33761

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

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Filed under Attorney Ethics, Florida Bar, Florida lawyer CLE technology competence, Florida Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Florida lawyer technology competence rule 4-1.1, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer competence technology, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer lack of competence, Lawyer technology competence