The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on January 31, 2020 in Tallahassee. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
Florida Chief Justice Charles T. Canady updated members of the Board about issues before the judicial branch and expressed gratitude for the very good start for state courts in the budget process underway in the Legislature. A number of priorities identified in the courts’ budget request and its legislative agenda are included in initial budgets proposed separately in the Senate and the House of Representatives the week of January 27. Bar President John Stewart said the Bar’s number one strategic plan objective is to ensure the judicial system as a coequal branch of government is fair, impartial, adequately funded. President Stewart said The Florida Bar will continue to advocate that the courts be open to all by working with the executive and legislative branches to achieve this objective, particularly in advocating for funding to recruit and retain quality judges. The regular session of the Legislature is scheduled to conclude March 13. The full House and Senate still must approve versions of the budget, negotiate any differences into an identical spending plan, and then forward it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In addition to supporting the courts’ legislative requests, The Florida Bar is monitoring bills of interest to the legal profession. For weekly updates on proposed legislation, the session schedule, links to contact legislators and to other information sources, as well as the policies on Florida Bar advocacy and all approved legislative positions, please visit the Legislative Activity section.
A request for the Board’s input on a proposal by the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice to amend Bar rules to allow registration of Advanced Florida Registered Paralegals was referred to the Board’s Rules Committee for review and recommendations to be reported back to the Board in May. The access commission, which plans to submit the proposal directly to the Supreme Court, expects that creating this new registration that would allow the provision of limited legal services to law firm clients who are handling some legal matters pro se will expand access to justice. The proposal was circulated to all Bar sections and the comments received were also referred to the Rules Committee to consider. Read more in the Bar News.
At the request of the Out of State Division, an amendment was approved to allow for co-sponsorship of professionally recorded CLE courses by the Bar’s CLE committee. The amendment updates a 2015 redesign of the CLE administrative fee and overhead structure that was undertaken before the massive shift and availability of online video and on-demand CLE.
The Board approved an amendment to the comment to Rule 4-7.18, Direct Contact with Prospective Clients, to clarify that lawyers may initiate the exchange of contact information at a business-related event or in business-related social media because those forums are at least in part intended to facilitate networking.
In addition, the Board approved three lawyer slates for each of the vacancies on the state’s 26 judicial nominating commissions. The nominations will be sent to Gov. DeSantis who will make the final appointments.
The annual Pro Bono Awards Ceremony was held on the day before the Board meeting at the Florida Supreme Court. Twenty-two circuit recipients were honored with Florida Bar President’s Awards along with a Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division member and all of the recipients of the Chief Justice’s annual pro bono awards: Tobias Simon, Distinguished Judicial Service, Distinguished Federal Judicial Service, Law Firm Commendation and Voluntary Bar Association. Watch the video of the ceremony on the Florida Channel or visit Florida Bar News for full coverage.