National Association of Legislative Information and Technology (NALIT) Newsletter Summer 2014


Chair's Corner

My fellow “NALITers.” Hope your summer has been an enjoyable one and that you have taken some time to spend with family and friends.

Just a few words to say, as NALIT chair, it has been a pleasure working with such great peers. The comradery, IT expertise and wealth of knowledge surpass what one could only imagine. From the great work of the committees to the wonderful Professional Development and Summit Seminars, it has been a great year.

Also, thanks to a great NCSL staff (Pam Greenberg and colleagues) in helping NALIT coordinate a tremendous amount of work for the PDS and Summit seminars. No doubt, NALIT would not be what it is without you.

Speaking of the Summit, it’s just around the corner! The NALIT Summit Planning Committee has arranged a few good seminars that will reach a broad audience. As always, there will many other Summit activities for enjoyment and participation.

I’m looking forward to a great upcoming PDS in Santa Fe and hoping to see many of you there. Great sessions are planned, and the door is open to show what you are doing with technology in your state. The PDS Planning Committee has done well in putting together an excellent four days of sessions for your participation. A “wealth of knowledge” will be on display. Of course, it will be a good time, also, to catch up with friends and take part in the social atmosphere.

Looking forward to a great upcoming PDS in Santa Fe. Many great sessions are planned, and the door is open to show what you are doing with technology in your state.

Hope to see you soon!

— Troy Adkins, Virginia

NALIT Annual Business Meeting and Breakfast

NALIT's annual business meeting will be held at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 20, from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Breakfast will be served, thanks to our sponsor, Dell. At the meeting, NALIT members will elect new officers, recognize the winners of the NALIT Legislative Staff Achievement and Online Democracy Awards and consider other business of the association. All NALIT members—legislative IT professionals who serve the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories—are invited to attend.

Find NALIT Online

Did you know ...

The NALIT bylaws were adopted in 1992. Other notable events of this period were:

  • Marc Andreessen developed the first graphical browser, Mosaic (1992–1993)
  • CERN announces the web will be open and free (1993)
  • Microsoft released Windows 3.1 (1992)

Information Technology and the Delivery of Legal Services

Photo of a gavel.Attorneys have not always been the quickest to embrace technological change. The possibilities and risks posed by the use of information technology are constantly changing. The practice of law is rooted in precedent and can tend to create hesitancy among attorneys to deviate from current practice. However, as the use of technology in the practice of law continues to change, attorneys must change as well.

The ethical obligations for the practice of law require an attorney to maintain competence in both the law and the practice of it, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. If attorneys are not aware of new technologies that enable better provision of legal services, they risk using client time inefficiently and violating their ethical obligations to the client. On the other hand, if attorneys embrace every new technological change regardless of any security issues involved, they risk unintentional disclosure or destruction of confidential client information.

The confidentiality and preservation of client information are considered bedrock principles of the attorney-client relationship. Therefore, maintaining client information and ensuring it does not fall into unintended hands is of the utmost importance. Furthermore, attorneys are required not only to follow the rules of professional conduct, but also to ensure that any individuals, such as information technology professionals, who assist the attorney do, as well. Failure by the attorney to take the steps necessary to ensure these ethical obligations can result in disciplinary action for everyone involved.

These ethical obligations illustrate the importance of the relationships between attorneys and information technology professionals. It is essential that both groups have a continuous dialogue about technological changes and how they affect provision of legal services. Information technology practices are always changing, and attorneys are required to continually evaluate whether a process used in delivering legal services is reasonable given the circumstances. A process that might have been untested and risky a year ago may now be reliable and efficient.

Alternatively, a process that was reasonable six months ago now may be compromised and pose an elevated risk. Attorneys rely on information technology professionals to update them about these changes in technology.

The days are gone when an attorney could remain uninvolved in decisions about whether to use information technology to deliver legal services. Today, it is essential that attorneys and their information technology professionals listen to and learn from each other. Without current and comprehensive information about the use of technology in providing legal services, an attorney is unable to adequately determine the reasonableness of the process and any associated risks. The modern practice of law demands accuracy, efficiency, reliability and security, and attorneys need current information about technological practices to ensure that is accomplished. Attorneys’ use of information technology is constantly changing, and they need to understand the practices and seek the advice of information technology professionals to continue that development.

— Matt Sterling, assistant revisor of statutes, Kansas

NALIT 2014 Professional Development Seminar | Santa Fe, Oct. 14-17, 2014

Photo of the Santa Fe Capitol building.Reconnect with IT colleagues in other legislatures at this fall’s NALIT Professional Development Seminar (PDS). The agenda offers a mix of technical, policy and management sessions and provides opportunities to share solutions and discuss innovative uses of technology in the legislative environment. The focus is on interacting with peers—learning from them and sharing valuable lessons learned and successes achieved.

Sessions include preconference demonstrations of a variety of legislative IT applications and solutions, as well as sessions on change management, leveraging the cloud, ROI, productivity tools, help desk, infrastructure, third-party use of legislative data and electronic committee applications.

You’ll also tour the Roundhouse, New Mexico’s unique state capitol, which is within walking distance of the hotel. Vendor exhibits provide a look at the latest solutions offered by companies that focus on the legislative market.

The seminar hotel, the Inn and Spa at Loretto, is an exquisite luxury hotel reflecting the culture and sophistication of its historic setting. The Inn is ideally located in the heart of Santa Fe, near the Palace of the Governors and just one block from historic Santa Fe Plaza. NCSL has reserved a block of rooms at the extraordinary rate of $88 per night, but this block of rooms is limited and may be sold out, so make your reservations now before prices rise.

If you are unable to reserve a room at the Loretto, we have reserved an additional block of rooms at the new Drury Plaza Hotel, which is .3 miles from the Loretto (about a six-minute walk). The Drury was one of our finalists when we chose the seminar hotel, and it looks very nice. It’s unfortunate our group will be split, but the initial room blocks are based on past years’ use and are conservative in order to avoid attrition fees (if we do not use all rooms in our block), which could be costly for NALIT.

Please join us for a unique learning experience, where you’ll recharge, gain new insights and inspiration, and meet or reconnect with colleagues from other legislatures.

Getting There: Santa Fe is served by the Albuquerque Sunport Airport and the Santa Fe Municipal Airport. The Inn and Spa at Loretto is approximately 68 miles from the Albuquerque airport and nine miles from the Santa Fe Municipal Airport. Most travelers fly in to Albuquerque and take a shuttle or rental car to Santa Fe. The Sandia Shuttle Express has 30 trips daily, with pick-up and drop-off at all hotels. Other options include Devine Limo and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express (ABQ Airport to Santa Fe).

NALIT Plans for the 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis

Logo for the 2014 Legislative Summit.Hopefully you will be joining your colleagues in the land of 10,000 lakes this week at the 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis, Aug. 19–22.

Here are just a few of the sessions on the NALIT agenda:

  • Recruiting and Retaining Tech Talent
  • Ensuring the Authenticity of Online Legal Information
  • Remote Testimony for Committee Hearings
  • Minnesota Legislative Technology Offices Tour (RSVP to )

There also will be opportunities to connect with NALIT colleagues at the NALIT Dutch-Treat Dinner (RSVP to, at the NALIT Business Meeting and Breakfast, and at social events during the week.

The opening social event on Tuesday evening will be held at the historic Mill City Museum located on the banks of the beautiful Mississippi River. On Thursday evening, attendees will experience the beauty of Nicollet Island, located in the middle of the Mississippi River with its historic St. Anthony Falls. Enjoy local food, musical acts and other activities.

If you aren’t able to attend, look for the session presentations on NALIT’s website.