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November 1, 2013
Should house counsel serve on Bar panels?

The Florida Bar is looking at whether authorized house counsel — corporate counsel licensed in other states but work for Florida companies and are registered with the Bar — can serve on Bar committees.

Bar President Eugene Pettis reported at the Board of Governors’ October meeting that he has been approached by corporate attorneys who are interested in serving on Bar standing committees. He said there are about 800 attorneys registered as authorized house counsel with the Bar.

“These are people who are licensed lawyers in other states; they are people whose jobs as general counsel have brought them to our state,” Pettis said.

He added that as the Bar studies its future role through such efforts as the Vision 2016 commission, it’s necessary to get a wide variety of feedback.

“It’s important that we bring in people from the business culture who can discuss things from a business standpoint,” Pettis said.

He said he talked with two business lawyers who attended a Vision 2016 meeting that looked at the future of the profession “and they were saying, ‘You guys are not getting what we need from the business perspective.’ We’re missing some of their needs and we’re not communicating.”

Pettis said he would be working with board member Bill Schifino on the issue.

[Revised: 08-29-2014]