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Technology Committee considers making Tech Support Helpline permanent

Senior Editor Top Stories

Tech support“The Florida Bar Tech Support Helpline” has passed a three-month “beta test” with flying colors and could be added to The Florida Bar Member Benefits Program.

That’s the news Board Technology Committee Chair Paige Greenlee reported to the Board of Governors at a July 23 meeting on Miami Beach.

“Overwhelmingly, this project is something that our members really, really appreciated,” she said. “Members begged for it in the comments to the survey.”

Greenlee said the committee voted the day before to “explore options” for adding the service to the Member Benefits Program.

The Board Technology Committee began researching the concept last year while it was working with the COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force on a variety of projects to help members cope with the health crisis and subsequent economic disruption.

In January, the board voted unanimously to award a contract to Law Tech Partners for a three-month “beta test,” largely to determine member interest.

Law Tech Partners owner Adriana Linares, a legal technology consultant and trainer, offers a similar service as a member benefit to the San Diego County Bar Association.

Law Tech Partners submitted a series of glowing testimonials from California lawyers.

During the trial period, Florida Bar members who were experiencing routine IT problems were encouraged to phone a toll-free number, send an email, or participate in a live chat. Lawyers requesting service were required to sign waivers and advised, in a Q&A, that “this is not an emergency service.”

“Emergency issues related to court filings with immediate deadlines, or technical emergencies will not be addressed,” potential users were advised. “Members will not contact the Helpline for emergency software issues, hardware or device failures, interruption of service, or a loss of power or internet services (they should contact the related service provider.)”

Potential users were also required to acknowledge “their ultimate responsibility to take reasonable steps that by contacting the Helpline, confidentiality or other issues (Bar Rule 4-5.3) are not created.”

In May, then Board Technology Committee Chair Jay Kim reported that Law Tech Partners had received 80 calls for service less than half-way through the trial period, and that initial responses were “overwhelmingly” positive.

During the pandemic, President Dori Foster-Morales noted that technology was among the top three challenges that members cited in a series of virtual town hall forums she conducted in each of the state’s 20 judicial circuits.

However, a Bar survey appeared to contradict what members were reporting in the town hall forums.

It asked how likely respondents would be to use a “remote computer/repair tech support initially for free, followed by a reduced fee,” if it were offered as a member benefit. Only 8% responded “very likely,” 14% responded “somewhat likely,” and 59% responded “unlikely.” Another 19% indicated they were unsure.

The service was promoted primarily to solo and small-firm practitioners who were less likely to be able to afford their own IT service.

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