The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org

Frequently Asked Questions About The Florida Bar

What is The Florida Bar?

What is The Florida Bar's official governmental status?

What are the responsibilities of The Florida Bar?

Who admits lawyers to the practice of law in Florida?
How do I get a Certificate of Good Standing as a member of The Florida Bar?

Who can practice law in Florida?

What is the unlicensed practice of law?

Does the Bar license paralegals?

How can I find a qualified lawyer to handle my legal problem?


What is The Florida Bar?

The Florida Bar is the organization of all lawyers who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Florida to practice law in the state. Any lawyer desiring to practice law in Florida must be a member of The Florida Bar.
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What is The Florida Bar's official governmental status?

Article V, Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Florida gives the Supreme Court of Florida exclusive and ultimate authority to regulate the admission of persons to the practice of law and the discipline of those persons who are admitted to practice. The Court performs those official functions through two separate arms: the Florida Board of Bar Examiners , which screens, tests and certifies candidates for admission to the practice; and The Florida Bar, the investigative and prosecutorial authority in the lawyer regulatory process. Neither of these two agencies, nor any of their functions, is supported by state tax dollars.

What are the responsibilities of The Florida Bar?

The Florida Bar's core functions are to prosecute unethical lawyers through the Attorney Discipline system; administer a client protection fund to cover certain financial losses a client might suffer due to misappropriation by a lawyer; administer a substance abuse program; and provide continuing education services for lawyers. The Florida Bar provides many other services to members and the public, including publishing legal periodicals, administering a public information program, providing ethics and law office management advice, and sponsoring conferences and meetings. See our listing of consumer pamphlets for more information.
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Who admits lawyers to the practice of law in Florida?

The Florida Bar as an organization has no direct control over attorney admissions. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is the entity charged by the Florida Supreme Court with assuring that only qualified persons will be admitted to the practice of law in this state. The Board of Bar Examiners investigates the character and fitness of applicants, develops and administers the bar examination for attorney candidates, and submits for Supreme Court approval the names of those qualified for admission to practice.

How do I get a Certificate of Good Standing as a member of The Florida Bar?

You can call The Florida Bar membership Records Department 800-342-8060 ext. 5832. You will need to give your name, Florida Bar number and address.
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Who can practice law in Florida?

Generally speaking, you must be a member of The Florida Bar in order to practice law in Florida. There are some limited exceptions established by rule or law. For example, the following chapters of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar allow limited practice in Florida without being admitted:

Chapter 12, Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono Participation Program
Chapter 13, Authorized Legal Aid Practitioner Rule
Chapter 16, Foreign Legal Consultancy Rule
Chapter 17, Authorized House Counsel Rule
Chapter 18, Military Legal Assistance Counsel Rule

There may be other exceptions allowed by law. You may contact the Bar's Unlicensed Practice of Law Department, 850-561-5840, for additional information.

What is the unlicensed practice of law?

The unlicensed practice of law, in its simplest terms, is when someone who is not licensed or otherwise authorized to practice law in Florida practices law. In determining whether the giving advice and counsel and the performance of services in legal matters constitute the practice of law, it is safe to follow the rule that if giving such advice and performance of services affect important rights of a person under the law, and if the reasonable protection of the rights and property of those advised and served requires that the persons giving such advice possess legal skill and knowledge of the law greater than that possessed by the average citizen, then the giving of such advice and performance of services by one for another constitutes the practice of law.
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Does the Bar license paralegals?

No. The Florida Bar does not license paralegals. But on March 1, 2008, the voluntary Florida Registered Paralegal Program went into effect. The program provides for voluntary registration of paralegals who meet minimum educational, certification or work experience and who agree to abide by an established code of ethics. For the first three years of the program, paralegals who are able to show substantial experience, but who don't meet the education or certification requirements, will be able to become Florida Registered Paralegals under a grandfathering provision. The new Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar establishing the program does not set forth the duties paralegals may perform or deal with the fees that can be charged or awarded for the work they do. The primary responsibility for monitoring the work of paralegals -- whether Florida Registered Paralegals or not -- rests with the attorneys who employ or supervise them. Additionally, The Florida Bar has been given the authority to investigate and prosecute the unlicensed practice of law. This may include activities performed by nonlawyers who call themselves paralegals. Under Florida Bar rules approved by the Supreme Court of Florida, only a nonlawyer who is working under the direction and supervision of a member of The Florida Bar may use the title paralegal. A nonlawyer who is not working for a lawyer and uses this title is engaging in the unlicensed practice of law. If you have questions regarding the unlicensed practice of law or if you wish to file a complaint against someone practicing law without a license, you may contact the Bar's UPL Department at 850-561-5840.

How can I find a qualified lawyer to handle my legal problem?

The Florida Bar offers several services in addition to the Find a Lawyer search on the homepage to help people find an attorney for access to the justice system. The pamphlet How to find a lawyer in Florida provides an overview of what to consider when selecting an attorney. Please see the Lawyer Referral Service page, and the consumer pamphlet titled Legal Aid in Florida for details about these options for finding an attorney. Lawyers may also be selected from a list of board certified attorneys . Board certification is a voluntary program with standards established by the Supreme Court of Florida to identify attorneys who have special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as good character, ethics and a reputation for professionalism in the practice of law. Experience, testing and peer review are key components of certification. Please see the Certification portion of our site to obtain a description of the 24 areas in which attorneys may be certified.
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[Revised: 10-07-2014]