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Tech Committee refines its ‘Recommended Best Practices Guide for Remote Court Proceedings’

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Joshua Houss Marks

Joshua Houss Marks

With a January 20 deadline for comments fast approaching, standing Committee on Technology members proposed some last-minute changes to The Florida Bar’s proposed “Recommended Best Practices Guide for Remote Court Proceedings.”

At a January 11 videoconference meeting, several committee members zeroed in on Remote Procedures Applicable to All Proceedings 1.12: “The preferred videoconferencing platform is Zoom.”

Some committee members expressed concern that the recommendation was too specific, considering that some judicial circuits are using alternate platforms, including WebEx and Microsoft Teams.

“Is there a need to offer a preferred platform within this guidance?” asked Vice Chair Joshua Marks.

Committee member Lillian Ewan said she shared the same concern.

“I’m in a Zoom circuit, but I know another lawyer who is in a Teams circuit,” she said. “Isn’t the preference picked by the judiciary anyway?”

Beau Blumberg

Beau Blumberg

Stressing that the recommended best practices are still subject to change, Vice Chair Beau Blumberg defended the Zoom preference, saying it makes sense from an “educational standpoint.”

A major project of the Board Technology Committee, the recommended guidelines cover everything from proper attire to evidence submission. Individually numbered across more than a dozen pages, the recommended best practices are divided into five sections:

• Remote Procedures Applicable to all Proceedings.

• Remote Procedures Applicable to Non-evidentiary Hearings.

• Remote Procedures Applicable to Evidentiary Hearings.

• Remote Deposition Procedures.

• Remote Mediations.

Board Technology Committee Chair Jay Kim told the standing committee that all comments would be considered before a final version is submitted to the Board of Governors at a January 29 meeting. (Bar members can view the recommended best practices and submit comments here: https://thefloridabar-pqvvv.formstack.com/forms/florida_bar_recommended_best_practices_guide).

“I wanted to thank your committee…for their invaluable input to what we’re working on,” Kim said.

At the request of the Board Technology Committee, the standing committee earlier this year began developing a videoconferencing “toolkit” to help beginners learn the basics of Zoom. Tutorials on alternate platforms are also planned. The material is being produced on a rolling schedule and posted at the Practice Resource Center’s LegalFuel website. (https://www.legalfuel.com)

In other business, Marks told committee members that the Blockchain Workgroup is developing tutorials on the emerging technology that will eventually be added to existing content on the LegalFuel site.

The material will focus on three primary areas, Marks said:

• Privacy and security as it relates to blockchain.

• A lawyer’s guide to transacting in blockchain.

• Evidentiary issues as it relates to blockchain.

Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Current Technology Issues is developing a podcast on current technology relevant to practice management.

The Subcommittee on Practice Management Issues is completing a review of the LegalFuel website and will soon be developing multiple webinars on technology and security considerations when working from home, e-signatures and e-notaries and virtual videoconference security. It is also considering a guide, similar to the videoconferencing tool kit, on cloud collaboration software.

Practice Resource Center Director Jonathon Israel told the committee that by the end of December, traffic on the LegalFuel website was up 20% for the calendar year, with over 770,000 page views.. LegalFuel and the standing committee will continue to produce at least one free technology CLE per month. Bar members can visit https://www.legalfuel.com/events/ to view the list of upcoming webinars.

The standing Committee on Technology hopes to build on the momentum with a LegalFuel promotion campaign.

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