Lawyers in Florida are expected to be competent with technology; the Florida Supreme Court has even made it a CLE requirement. But meeting the bare minimum requirements shouldn’t be enough. At the Florida Bar’s Annual Convention, panelists Janette Smith, Christine Senne, and Anessa Allen Santos join host Jonathon Israel to share some of their insights on the tools lawyers should be using to improve their practice; where they can find resources on how to work smarter and not harder; and how the bar is taking a leading role in facilitating this training.
Janette Smith is an attorney providing consulting services to local governments, non-profit entities, and law firms interested in streamlining technology.
Christine Senne is vice president of legal and compliance for Fluent and serves as of counsel with Manson Bolves Donaldson Varn, PA, with whom she practices environmental law.
Anessa Allen Santos is the founder and managing attorney of IntelliLaw.
The Florida Bar Podcast
Florida Bar Annual Convention 2019: Practicing Better with the Technologies of Today and Beyond
Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and legal practice management to help you run your firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jonathon Israel: Hello and welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, recorded from the 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton, Florida.
This is Jonathon Israel, Director of LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar and I’m the host for today’s show. Joining me now I have Janette Smith, Christine Senne, and Anessa Santos.
Welcome to the show.
Christine Senne: Good morning.
Janette Smith: Hello.
Anessa Allen Santos: Hey Jonathon, so happy to be here.
Jonathon Israel: Thanks for joining us. So before we get started, I’d like to allow each of you to kind of introduce yourselves a little bit better for the audience, they kind of know who you are and what you do. So Janette, if you don’t mind starting.
Janette Smith: No problem. I’m a proud member of the Commission and Technology. As part of that committee, we had our technology seminars today. We were doing practice in law management and it was fantastic. It was a day-long event and we had two sessions this morning, three sessions this afternoon.
It was a long hard journey and I’m so glad that we’re here and I’m looking forward to speaking with you and our audience.
Jonathon Israel: Thank You. Christine.
Christine Senne: My name is Christine Senne. I am an in-house counsel for Compliance and legal at a medical cannabis company here in Florida. I also a counsel to an environmental law firm in Florida. I am Vice-Chair of the Committee on Technology and a valid bar junkie. I participate in several committees, both local and with the State Bar.
And I was one of the presenters today and spoke with people at our CLE on law practice management and on basic technology skills, focusing on ethics, related to technology.
Jonathon Israel: Thank you, it’s great. Anessa.
Anessa Allen Santos: Right, so my name is Anessa Santos. I’m a solo practitioner in Orlando. I specialize in representing technology startups and scaleups that are usually developing some sort of proprietary intellectual property. I’m also a member of the Committee on Technology of the Florida Bar and the Digital Currency Task Force, which is connected up with the Business Law Section.
I spoke a couple of times today this morning on blockchain, super cool stuff, right and then again I got to do a session with Janette, which was super fun. We’ll do some highlights on that, but basically that was about the future of technology, highlighting issues like data analytics, ethics involved, surveillance, data security and privacy with communication channels.
And my favorite deepfakes, so I look forward to chatting with you about that.
Jonathon Israel: Great. No, thank you all for being with us today. So as we mentioned earlier, you guys helped put on our technology seminar today, a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart here at the Bar and judging by the size the audience, it’s a very important topic for our Bar members as well.
So Janette, I know you and Christine kind of started with some general law practice management technology tips that bar members could take home today and use. Is there one that you want to highlight that you kind of think would be an important tip that somebody taken home today would put use?
Janette Smith: What I thought was the best part of the practice seminar is that we actually had hands-on and we were able to demonstrate to lawyers how easy it is to do things a little bit differently utilizing technology, so they can work smarter, not harder.
To that extent, we talked about Word, some tricks and cool tricks they could do on Word, Outlook, Adobe. I think if they walked away saying I might be able to do something to be more efficient for my clients, then I think I did a good job today. And I’m really excited that we’re going to have all of this information on LegalFuel and all of the participants and whoever else who wants to see what we were talking about, can go in there and have a link and be able to download and for less than five minutes have clips on each of the subject matters that we talked about.
So they not only got the experience in the classroom, so they could ask questions, but now they can go back to their office and they continue using the material.
Jonathon Israel: Right, no I think that’s a great point, and it seems to me a very useful resource available to them on our legalfuel.com website.
One of the tools that you kind of focused on the most was Office 365 and how useful of a tool that can be, not just being cloud-based but some of the other tools that come with it.
Is there a favorite piece inside of Office 365 that you like that you think would be the most useful?
Janette Smith: Well, I believe any practitioner should be familiar with Word, they need to know how to write documents using a word processor. Unfortunately, there are still attorneys using typewriters, which makes it very difficult for changes and things like that.
Also we talked a lot about Microsoft Outlook and showing them easy things that you can do utilize in that program to again, you’re going to better use your office and your time.
Jonathon Israel: You know I think that’s great. I mean the efficiencies that a program like Office 365 with Outlook and Word can bring to an office is huge, not just to the attorneys but to their clients as well.
Janette Smith: And I want to make note that, no, I do not have stock in Microsoft, but I do use that product often and I do recommend it to other attorneys because it’s a one-stop shop for all of your needs when it comes to your office management and technology.
Jonathon Israel: Right, and Christine your tie-in in this session was really touching on some of the ethics behind the technologies and using the technologies today. Can you speak to that how the ethics requirements that they have to meet with the technology? How that comes into play?
Christine Senne: That’s right, and we did try to use some good humor to keep people interested and awake during this. It’s a serious topic and sometimes dry, but I love thinking about. I’m very passionate about the practice of law and I wanted to remind people that the duty of competence, it’s our most basic professional duty includes the duty to use technology appropriately and competently.
We need to stay on top of technological developments, because we have to use technology in our everyday practice. So reminding people of that, that our Board of Governors has made it clear in the comments to our rule of competence that this includes technology and training is expected. But also to point out to them that we have a lot of resources available as well.
The Florida Bar has done a great job of not only clarifying this requirement and making it clear that you need to use technology ethically and appropriately; but they’ve gone to great lengths to revamp LegalFuel, launch it as LegalFuel, provide lots of free resources.
I think you said at last count we had 60 hours of free CLE with technology credits that are actually useful that people can use in their everyday practice right away through the LegalFuel website and lots of important topics that relate to other ethical duties that we have; such as protecting confidential client information, using cloud computing appropriately, using passwords, preventing against phishing attacks and hacking and these sorts of high-level issues that are big risks for legal practitioners that we have a lot of solutions available that are practical and easy to implement.
Most of the bar is solo and small firm lawyers and I think the LegalFuel website does a great job of giving them resources to help them.
Jonathon Israel: Right, no, I would agree 100% obviously. But I think also touching on that is that a lot of people don’t realize the resources available to them through the bar, not just through LegalFuel, but our own ethics in Advertising Department, the resources they have to help guide them through some of those questions they may have about how they’re using the technology and how does it fit with what they –
Christine Senne: Absolutely. I also spoke about the use of — about the ethical implications of using social media, how if you’re going to do legal advertisements on social media, those need to be treated appropriately through the rules that we have with the Bar. But the bar has also put together checklist, websites and resources and in our presentation, we walked through where you can find those and how those rules work and relate to the rules that everybody already knows from tried-and-true methods like direct mail.
Well email is your analog, just because we have new technology, doesn’t mean that the baseline rules have changed.
Jonathon Israel: Right, and then I think that gets lost on a lot of people when they hear the word technology and they get all kind of freaked out about oh this new thing but it’s just a new way of doing the old thing.
Christine Senne: Exactly.
Jonathon Israel: And seeing how those rules and ethical opinions fit with that. So, Anessa not to leave you kind of over there hanging.
Anessa Allen Santos: I was just like really enjoying the conversation.
Jonathon Israel: So I know that Christine and Janette kind of touched on today in the using of technology today, where your topic was more of tomorrow and where we’re going with the technology or better, where the technology is taking us and the practitioners in the world. Can you touch on some of the topics that maybe you hit on?
Anessa Allen Santos: Sure absolutely. This was a session that I did together with Janette and we really had a blast putting it together. We sort of went at it with the eye towards creating a shock and all, like really to kind of get the crowd involved and engaged and there was a lot of laughter, so that was good.
So if you all want to take a listen to the future of technology it was a really fantastic session and it came right on the heels of the session that Janette and Christine had which was this beautiful segue, because once they really highlighted what the duties and the rules of ethics are and how they’re applying the same rules that we’ve always lived by to new technology, then we could kind of talk about some of these new communication channels, right.
So when we’re thinking about social media or WhatsApp or Instagram or WeChat or Messenger and Telegram and LinkedIn and all of the ways that we are communicating and sharing documents and having these conversations online with our clients and recognizing that some of these are secure, some of them, most of them are absolutely insecure.
We talked about these new fandangled devices that we’re having in our homes and in our offices, like Alexa and Siri and go well, Hey Google, that’s what it is, right Bixby for my Samsung, which I absolutely abhor, but these devices when placed are always listening, they’re listening for their keyword like, Hey Alexa, right or Hey Siri, Hey Google, whatever it is. And they’re listening for it and they’re recording the conversations that we’re having.
So we need to be mindful about the kinds of tools that we carry around with us that we have in our offices and that are present when we’re communicating even face-to-face or over the phone with our clients. What is this information, are we using a secure communication channel to communicate with our client and as Janette really aptly pointed out in today’s session, she talked about how — if you wipe your device that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve destroyed the information, because you have backups, you have backups of backups, it happens in this ethereal place called the cloud, which is this gigantic room full of hardware devices that store information and then provide copies of that propagated out to multiple other cloud storage facilities.
So even if you’re taking care to delete secured and privileged information from your device, there could be multiple copies of it propagated around. And so it’s really important to think about when you’re identifying the areas where you might be a little bit weak in your practice, definitely check out the topics of discussion on LegalFuel with all of the different hours out there.
There’s a lot of resources available and I think too, that LegalFuel is really responsive, so when you type in a question, right and you submit it, right. There on the website somebody is actually on the other side of that, they’re reading your question and they actually respond.
So it’s really cool that LegalFuel is so interactive and responsive. It’s a wealth of resources, identify your weaknesses, figure out what resources are out there and available that can answer your questions, if not ask it in the ask button there on the LegalFuel website, somebody always gets back to you.
Jonathon Israel: Yeah, no I can definitely vouch for that, know where they’re responding to every single question that that comes in to us.
Christine Senne: Could I just add something. I think all three of us have talked up LegalFuel and we sound like we’re running ad for it, but I also want to point out the three of us have very diverse practices. We have government attorney, we have someone who’s working in-house for a growing corporation, we have a solo practitioner, all of us have helped contribute to the LegalFuel website obviously through our work on the Committee on Technology, but we’ve all used it as well.
And it’s incredibly user-friendly and it’s a wonderful resource for the Bar.
Janette Smith: I’d like to echo that and I think what you really tied in on is that we all are different. I am a government attorney and the perspective that I have is so different than what an in-house counsel attorney may have, because they’re dealing with the corporate, or a FinTech technology startup company, attorney for companies may have.
So working together I believe especially with the three of us on these two, because they do overlap. There’s a start and then there’s a future. There’s a now and a future.
I think it’s the synergy that was created and it was obviously felt by the audience. It was something we were able to deliver through working together and I feel on even on the Committee of Technology, we have that entire synergy. There are what 30 people who are contributing all with different backgrounds for the good of the Bar and honestly to make bar members knowledgeable. So there’s no reason or no excuse to say, I didn’t know or I didn’t have a resource.
Anessa Allen Santos: Yeah, and if you’re feeling intimidated by the thought of sort of wrapping your mind around all of these new areas of competency that you’re expected to have then again, I encourage you to either A, reach out to LegalFuel directly and ask for help or B, reach out to the folks on the Technology Committee, because we are so incredibly passionate about this. I don’t know it all and I never ever will, especially given the pace of technology change today.
And I know that Christine and Janette here along with me, they feel exactly the same way, and so, where I’m weak they complement and vice versa, and I think here is the Bar Association generally that’s the environment of welcoming and help and assistance that we want to provide.
So if you’re feeling intimidated, ask for help, we’ll be happy to do our part.
Jonathon Israel: Right. No, and I think that’s an important point is that with the pace of technology evolving this can’t be a static resource, that it has to evolve as quickly as the technology does.
So having people like you in the standing Committee on Technology to help build those resources is a huge impact for Bar members.
Anessa Allen Santos: Yeah, and maybe you even have like a great question that you’re like hey, Technology Committee, I have this repetitive issue, submit it and maybe we can develop out a CLE on it. I think that would be great as well to have some commentary from the greater bar.
Jonathon Israel: Well, it looks like we’ve reached the end of our program. I want to thank each of our guests for joining us today.
Christine Senne: Thank you so much, this was wonderful.
Anessa Allen Santos: Yeah, it really was.
Janette Smith: Really look forward to the next year CLEs and the next conference.
Jonathon Israel: Definitely. So if our listeners have any questions or wish to follow up with you how can they best reach out?
Janette Smith: The best way to reach me would be via email which is jms-law.us or I can be found via LinkedIn, all of my information is also located in the material from today under course number 3214, it will be on the last slide of that course number.
Jonathon Israel: Christine?
Christine Senne: Best way to reach me is through my LinkedIn profile, which I believe is included with the profile for this podcast. I tend to be pretty vigilant about checking those messages there.
Jonathon Israel: And Anessa?
Anessa Allen Santos: Right, so there is multiple modalities in which you can look me up; Facebook, LinkedIn, both accounts are under my full name Anessa Allen Santos, obviously you can check me out at the Florida Bar or on my website at intellilaw.io, that’s intellilaw.io, where you’ll also find access to my mobile number and my email.
Jonathon Israel: Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for this episode of the Florida Bar podcast. Thank you to our listeners for tuning in.
If you like what you heard, please rate and review us in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app. I am Jonathon Israel, until next time thank you for listening.
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