Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: . Published: 2010-03-01 15:00:08  On December 18, 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court adopted Rule 1:42, which sets forth the mandatory continuing legal education requirements for New Jersey attorneys. The new Rule, which took effect on January 1, 2010, requires all attorneys practicing in the State (including judges, law clerks and in-house counsel) to take 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years, including at least four hours on topics related to ethics and professionalism.Over the last four weeks I had the opportunity to speak with  many lawyers at the NYLegalTech conference and the NJ Association for Justice Continuing Education conference. My takeaway from these conversations was that the level of computer literacy among the legal community ought to be much higher than it currently is.Granted, with 12 years experience as a legal software consultant my level of understanding ought to be quite high. However, when a name partner of a 30 lawyer firm does not even know if his/her firm is using practice management software, there is a wide education gap which needs to be filled. Some might argue that a senior lawyer at a mid-sized firm needs only to worry about generating new business. I would argue that if no less a business person than Warren Buffett could recite how many cases of Coca Cola and how many Acme Bricks were shipped last week then a law firm partner ought to know how his/her firm tracks appointments and deadlines, stores emails and organizes documents.So I propose that a new category of lawyer education be promulgated: Continuing Software Education. While not as strenuous as obtaining an MSCA, classes could include: “Email Storage and Tagging”, “Cost Effective Document Management”, “Time, Billing and Accounting Best Practices”, “You and Your Firm’s Calendar”, and “The Mobile Legal Practice”. These sessions should not be limited to the 20-something associates. Attendance should be mandatory for every lawyer, since it is the more senior lawyers who, as partners, are paying for the efficiencies (or inefficiencies) of the law business they own.Senior lawyers joke about how their grandkids know more about computers than they do. But who is the joke really on? It borders on business malpractice for any law firm in 2010 with more than 5 lawyers to be operating the business with less than full-featured time, billing accounting and practice management software in place and professionally configured. Would anyone continue to use a medical doctor who practiced medicine using techniques and equipment from 50 years ago? The same rule ought to apply to a law firm.A mandatory Continuing Software Education for lawyers would go a long way to alleviate the existing knowledge gap among today’s legal community.What do you think?

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