New in 2019: North Carolina Bar Requires CLE in IT or Cybersecurity

by: The Knowledge Group

March 04, 2019


Attorneys must know how technology is changing the delivery of legal services to people. Thus, last year the North Carolina Bar decided to require a technology CLE Credit, joining a new trend of bar associations requiring CLE studies on topics from social messaging to cybersecurity.

In 2012Model Rule 1.1 of the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, was updated to include technology within legal competence. As Comment 6 to Model Rule 1.1 states:

“to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”

The Florida Supreme Court was first to adopt the amended ABA rule three years ago. Florida’s bar association requires a minimum of three tech CLE hours over three years.

The ABA Journal reported last year that Pennsylvania’s bar association was prepared to adopt a requirement of one tech training hour over two years, to benefit lawyers and their clients.

NC’s New Rules Take Effect

Of North Carolina’s required 12 hours of annual CLE, effective in 2019, at least one hour must focus on technology training.

The requirement is enshrined in the rules of the NC State Bar, published in the North Carolina Reports, as well as in Title 27 of the North Carolina Administrative Code.

Under 27 NCAC Chapter 1D, Section .1501(c) (17), “Technology training” involves education on information technology or cybersecurity. Examples include training on:

  • An information technology process, tool, or method that facilitates tasks which specifically or uniquely relate to the practice of law;
  • Ways to use social media evidence or e-discovery;
  • Methods of filing of legal documents online;
  • Digital forensics; or
  • Law office management software.

The objective must be to increase professional and legal competence. As for cybersecurity, today’s legal professionals are obliged to protect themselves, and clients, from data theft, says the ABA.

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