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Florida Bar’s Annual Convention tech symposium taking shape

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Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Technology is advancing a host of other projects, including a cybersecurity webinar and another focusing on the security of court filings

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

The Florida Bar’s annual Tech Symposium will feature experts discussing a half-dozen topics, everything from smart ways to connect with clients to the impact of technology on privacy, Standing Committee on Technology Chair Kevin Johnson told the panel as it met January 19 in an Orlando conference center for the Winter Meeting.

Johnson praised Programming Subcommittee Chair Diane Perez for her work organize the symposium.

“She’s done a really good job at getting together an agenda,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of the effort we’ve made. We’ve got to get the word out to the rest of the Bar.”

The tech symposium is one of the highlights of the Bar’s Annual Convention in June. This year it will be presented on Wednesday, a prime slot that doesn’t compete with most committee meetings and other events, Johnson said.

The Programming Subcommittee is also preparing a cybersecurity webinar, and another focusing on the security of court filings, said committee member Ken Burke, who is also the Pinellas County Court Clerk & Comptroller.

For the court filing security webinar, the subcommittee has reached out to the chair of the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, Burke said.

“One of the topics will be how to make information available that’s under seal,” he said.

Meanwhile, the committee is advancing a host of other projects, Johnson said.

Committee member Pamela Martini, who serves as a liaison with the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, described her work on a newsletter that is designed to promote technology-related CLEs.

“Reach out to your local bar associations, or voluntary bar associations, because they’re always putting on tech CLEs as well,” she said. “I would love to do this newsletter monthly.”

Practice Management Subcommittee Chair Carlos Baradat said his panel is assembling guidelines for responding to cyber intrusions.

The timing couldn’t be better. Cybersecurity experts warn that lawyers are prime targets for ransomware attacks, where scam artists infect an IT system with malware and demand payment for a key to restore access to the files. It’s not uncommon for perpetrators to threaten to post the sensitive data on the dark web.

The guide will be a resource that offers step-by-step instructions for responding to intrusions, Baradat said.

“I think it looks really good, it’s off to a good start,” he said.

Baradat said the guidelines will likely include a Q&A segment that will help grab a reader’s attention.

He recited a few examples.

“My computer screen has gone dark, and there’s a message about ransomware. What do I do?” he said. “Ideally, they would be able to refer to the incident response.”

Some of the questions may not be directly related to a cyber intrusion, but are still related to cybersecurity, Baradat said.

“I have received an urgent email from a bank regarding a security breach, instructing us to immediately change wiring instructions for a real estate closing. What should I do?” he said.

More than one law firm has fallen victim to the scam, he said. One unknowingly transferred some $2 million to the criminals, Baradat said.

Florida Bar Programs Division Director Terry Hill told the committee that the Board Technology Committee has collected scholarly article submissions focusing on cybersecurity. The articles will appear in the May/June issue of the Bar Journal.

The committee also is working to enhance the “Find a Lawyer” feature that appear on the Florida Bar’s website, Hill said.

“We appreciate all that you do,” Hill said.

Jamie Moore, a practice management advisor at LegalFuel, reported the latest figures from the Practice Resource Center.

To date, there are 170 CLE courses available on the LegalFuel website, she said. The 170 programs offer Bar members 197.5 hours of General CLE credit, 34.5 hours of Ethics, 21 hours of Mental Health Awareness, and 103 hours of Technology CLE credit.

“All CLEs are reviewed prior to the expiration of the approval period and removed if deemed out-of-date or renewed if they are still relevant and the information is current,” she said. “New CLEs are being planned and will be added throughout the year.”

Florida Bar President Gary Lesser, President-elect Scott Westheimer, and President-elect Designate Roland Sanchez-Medina dropped in to thank members for their dedication.

Lesser reminded the panel that the Bar will launch a mentoring initiative in June for beginning lawyers with less than three years of experience and who work in firms of three or fewer lawyers.

About 5,000 lawyers will be eligible for the program, Lesser said.

“There is a technology component, it’s going to be run from an app,” he said, referring to an electronic platform that will coordinate matches with volunteer mentors — lawyers who are in good standing and have at least five years of experience.

“We have to make sure that it happens for newer lawyers, the [Supreme] Court likes the project, that’s very helpful,” Lesser said.


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