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Bar committees will focus on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and mentoring

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Exterior picture of The Florida Bar, a stately looking brick building with brick steps landscape by colorful spring annuals.Eager to help Florida lawyers remain on the cutting edge of technology, the Board of Governors is launching artificial intelligence and cybersecurity committees.

In a related move, the board has also approved a “Standing Committee on Mentoring New Lawyers.”

It will oversee the June launch of “Counsel to Counsel,” an initiative by President Gary Lesser that uses technology to match beginning and experienced lawyers.

“It’s going to make a big difference for new lawyers for a long time,” Lesser said.

In a May 12 meeting in Naples, the board unanimously approved the mentoring committee, a Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence Tools & Resources, and a Standing Committee on Cybersecurity and Privacy Law.

A day before, Lesser and President-elect Scott Westheimer presented the proposals to the Program Evaluation Committee.

Westheimer succeeds Lesser after a swearing-in ceremony at the Annual Convention in Boca Raton in June.

He told the PEC he wants the Bar to keep abreast of the daily barrage of AI developments.

“We’re being bombarded with it,” he said. “I think the Florida Bar should do something sooner [rather] than later.”

The special committee will spend a year “looking at all aspects of AI,” Westheimer said.

Lawyers and their clients should enjoy the benefits of AI and avoid any potential pitfalls, Westheimer said, adding that AI could promote access to justice.

“I have no preconceived plans for this, it’s going to be wide open,” he said.

The Standing Committee on Cybersecurity and Privacy Law is believed to be a first for any integrated bar.

Florida Bar sections, divisions, and committees have focused intently on cybersecurity for the past few years. The latest edition of The Florida Bar Journal is dedicated to the subject, and it will dominate the President’s Showcase at the Annual Convention. The Board Technology Committee is developing a cybersecurity best practices guide.

Westheimer said the new committee will include technical experts and work with other committees “without stepping on any toes.”

“This committee’s going to deal with the specialists, the folks that are in the data breach fields,” he said.

Steven Teppler, a Mandelbaum Barrett PC partner and chair of the firm’s Cybersecurity and Practice Group, told the Program Evaluation Committee that the new cybersecurity committee’s “focus will be on highly specialized aspects,” that are “emerging at breakneck speed.”

“In so doing, we’ll be complementing and assisting the work of other committees,” Teppler said.

Teppler and Franklin Zemel, a partner at Saul Ewing in Ft. Lauderdale who focuses on cybersecurity and privacy law, described the mission in an extensive Bar application.

Among other things, the committee will develop resources for Bar members to better achieve “cyber-resiliency,” and to better understand how cybersecurity impacts legal ethics, including “competence, diligence, client-confidentiality, and third-party confidentiality,” according to the application.

The Program Evaluation Committee voted unanimously to approve the proposed committees.

Lesser said the Standing Committee on Mentoring New Lawyers will include judges and law school representatives.

It will monitor the Counsel to Counsel program launch and help make mentoring a permanent part of Bar culture, he said.

“We’ve got to walk before we run,” he said. “This was built purposely to be a part of our architecture.”

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