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January 1, 2013
Board to discuss rule to allow clients access to emergency-suspended lawyers’ trust accounts

A procedure allowing clients access to their funds held in trust accounts of emergency-suspended Bar members is set to be presented to the Bar Board of Governors next month.

Disciplinary Procedure Committee Chair Dennis Kainen told the board in December that the committee has been working on the request from the Supreme Court to address the issue of clients having difficulty getting their funds that are in trust accounts of attorneys who are emergency suspended by the court. The lawyers’ trust accounts are frozen when the court issues an emergency suspension order.

The committee is looking at a claims procedure that would go through a court-appointed referee, he said.

On another matter, Kainen said the committee also is working on a rule change to allow Bar members to use diversion programs more than once every seven years, as currently provided in Bar rules. He noted that the Bar has diversion programs in several areas, and that a lawyer who had one diversion may benefit from diversion in an unrelated area within the seven-year time frame.

That change follows a recommendation of the Hawkins Commission, which studied the Bar’s disciplinary system.

The committee also met with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., Executive Director Michael Cohen to discuss how minor violations of a currently used call-in procedure for notification of substance abuse testing should be handled for those conditionally admitted to the Bar and to investigate whether a better notification system may be possible.

[Revised: 01-22-2014]