The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar News
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March 15, 2014

Every three years, I find myself engaged in frenetic activity brought on by the dreaded CLER reporting deadline. This week I signed up for two courses — one “live” and one on DVD — and am still suffering from sticker shock. The former was priced at $410, the latter a mere $302.

Obviously, many in the Bar hierarchy do not share President Eugene Pettis’ gloomy picture of the state of our profession, but instead think that the practice of law is still the land of milk and honey. Otherwise, how can they justify compelling the members to spend upwards of $1,000 (what I will have paid to achieve my current 30-hour cycle) to listen to colleagues who provide their lectures pro bono?

Over the years, CLE has taken on a life of its own. I guess I really should be congratulating the leadership for its cleverness in the development and maintenance of this great profit center. Who says lawyers are lousy business people?

Phil Shailer
Ft. Lauderdale

(Terry Hill, director of the Bar’s Programs Division, responds: The national average price per continuing legal education hour is approximately $38. The price referenced by Mr. Shailer falls below that national pricing. It is important to note that the $410 program referenced was for a day-and-one-half live program that included a reception and lunch as part of the registration. The $302 video/DVD program was for a 9.0 CLE credit hour/6.0 ethics program. In both instances, Mr. Shailer also paid the non-section member price. The Florida Bar strives to be the high-quality, low-cost CLE provider for our members and also offers a host of free and low-cost CLE offerings featured in our FloridaBarCLE 24/7 On-Demand catalog and on the Lawyers Helping Lawyers page of the Bar’s website.)

Referral Services
Is not paying a fee for a for-profit referral service the same as paying a fee to a non-attorney for referring a case to a lawyer, the latter being prohibited?

Lawyers who cannot get clients by other means gravitate to referral services. However, because The Florida Bar cannot regulate for-profit referral services, conflicts with advertising rules is a train wreck waiting to happen, despite the best efforts of the draftsmen of proposed Rule 4-7.22.

Richard N. Friedman

(Editor’s Note: Rule 4-7.17(b) provides an exception from paying for referrals that allows a lawyer to pay normal charges of a lawyer referral service. Although the Bar does not regulate for-profit lawyer referral services, the Bar does regulate lawyers who accept referrals from services and prohibits lawyer participation unless the lawyer referral service meets the requirements of Rule 4-7.22, including limitations on payments to lawyer referral services and compliance with lawyer advertising rules.)

International Arbitration
Last December, Chief Judge Bertila Soto of the 11th Circuit signed Administrative Order No. 13-08 establishing an International Commercial Arbitration Subsection (ICA Subsection) within the current Complex Business Litigation Section, in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. This effort was a joint project between the Bar’s International Law Section and the Miami International Arbitration Society. The ICA Subsection, which will handle all court proceedings related to international commercial arbitration matters, is only the second such court in the U.S. and adds to Miami’s stature as one of leading world venues in the field.

Miami has many advantages as a location to conduct international arbitration hearings related to legal disputes in the Americas. Becoming a international arbitration venue brings enumerable benefits to the local economy. Accordingly, local international arbitration practitioners have been working together over the past 10 years to harness Miami’s unique potential as an international arbitration venue by creating the necessary infrastructure to host such proceedings.

The effort began by convincing the world’s two largest international arbitration institutions, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, based in New York, and the International Chamber of Commerce, based in Paris, to select Miami as the venue for their conferences on international arbitration in Latin America. This infrastructure also includes a special rule drafted by the ILS and approved by the Florida Supreme Court as Bar Rule 1-3.11, which expressly permits foreign counsel to participate in international arbitration proceedings conducted in Florida. The ILS also led the effort for Florida to adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, the gold standard for international arbitration statutes, as Florida’s International Commercial Arbitration Act, F.S. Chapter 684. Based on all these accomplishments, MIAS submitted Miami’s winning bid to host the world’s most prestigious international arbitration conference, the International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress, which will take place in Miami from April 6-9.

The creation of specialized courts or judges to handle international arbitration proceedings is widely viewed as an important factor by the international law community in determining the most suitable venues to conduct such proceedings. Assigning these cases to a particular court or judge helps to develop greater judicial expertise in this unique area of the law. This system also leads to more uniformity in such rulings, which helps to establish a consistent body of case law.

The mere existence of this specialized court sends an important signal to the international business community that the jurisdiction in question has a sophisticated infrastructure for handling these proceedings.

The ICA Subsection is a subdivision of the existing Complex Litigation Section in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. Judges Jennifer D. Bailey and John W. Thornton, who currently preside over the Complex Litigation Section, will hear all matters assigned to the ICA Subsection. AO No. 13-08 provides that all matters relating to international commercial arbitration disputes that arise either under the Florida International Commercial Arbitration Act or the Federal Arbitration Act shall be assigned to the ICA Subsection. Such matters may include requests to appoint an arbitrator, order interim measures, or to recognize and enforce an arbitral award, as well as other requests for relief under these statutes. Counsel filing any such proceeding should designate it as a Complex Business Litigation matter (Section 40) in order for the clerk of court to assign it to the ICA Subsection. Because most of these cases involve narrower legal issues and have shorter life spans than a typical complex commercial litigation matter, AO No. 13-08 provides that matters assigned to the ICA Subsection are not subject to the Complex Business Litigation Section Procedures.

The establishment of the ICA Subsection marks an important milestone in Miami’s development as a leading world venue for international arbitration proceedings and leaves Miami well positioned for continued growth in this rapidly expanding practice area.

Eduardo Palmer

Elder Abuse
As the Legislative Session opens, hot-button issues include concealed weapons permitting, addressing the flood insurance crisis, barring minors from tanning salons, and raising speed limits.

Yet one topic that will be addressed — and should earn legislators’ and citizens’ attention alike — is the issue of abuse and reporting, such as abuse in assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes. This is vital to ensuring care of ALF residents and the elderly.

Currently, such reporting is not required, and some residents face physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. That must change.

During this year’s session, both the House and Senate reportedly will discuss a measure designed to achieve several goals, including tightening abuse and neglect reporting requirements and increased fines for those facilities that violate the law. Even in the face of industry resistance, the measure reportedly has found support of House and Senate leaders. That said, leaders also support a measure to protect nursing homes from lawsuits.

We will watch closely the progress of bills important to Florida’s elderly and at-risk citizens. While tanning salons and speed limits might pique the interest of the populace, it’s important that we all know how our at-risk Floridians are treated — and take every measure to report and stop abuse.

Gloria W. Fletcher
Vice President, Florida’s Children First

State and Church (cont.)
As a Jew who disapproves of state officials or local judges deciding which religious holidays should be observed in Florida’s courthouses — regardless whether those occasions recognize Christianity, Judaism, or any other belief system — I also am personally offended by a Florida Bar member who states: “If a judge should choose to ornament his office with a Star of David, I’m not going to be bothered by that if I have a meeting in chambers.”

Why am I offended? Upon gaining independence, the State of Israel has displayed the star as its nationalist symbol on its flag. To the extent that the Star of David does have religious significance, it has become a lasting reminder of the humiliation imposed on Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust.

“The suffering faces of depleted men and women reached across to them, pleading not so much for help — they were beyond that — but for an explanation. Just something to subdue this confusion. Their feet could barely rise above the ground. Stars of David were plastered to their shirts, and misery was attached to them as if assigned, ‘Don’t forget your misery.…’ In some cases, it grew on them like a vine. At their side, the soldiers also made their way past, ordering them to hurry up and to stop moaning. Some of these soldiers were only boys. They had the Fuhrer in their eyes,” from “The Long Walk to Dachau” chapter in The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.

Gabe Kaimowitz

[Revised: 02-28-2017]