The Florida Bar Board of Governors met via Zoom video conference on July 17, 2020. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:
Chief Justice Charles Canady addressed the Board and repeated his pledge to avoid unnecessary risk in expanding court operations during the pandemic, but emphasized that essential matters are still being heard with thousands of virtual hearings already held in courts throughout the state. The Supreme Court’s special COVID-19 work group continues to provide recommendations on how best to safely resume normal operations.
President Dori Foster-Morales will host virtual town hall meetings in all 20 circuits during August and September to discuss how Florida attorneys are coping during the pandemic and specific challenges they are encountering in their practices. The schedule and registration links are posted at floridabar.org/virtualtownhalls.
The Board Technology Committee is focused on helping Bar members adjust to practice and court changes caused by the pandemic, especially in using digital platforms for remote court hearings. The committee is fast-tracking guidelines or a proposed procedural rule that would foster more uniformity in remote hearings and is asking videoconferencing software providers to consider adding features designed for the legal community. This Florida Bar News article provides additional information on the work of the committee.
After a thorough discussion, the Board of Governors also declined to make the recommended changes to the current standing board policy regarding the appointment of non-voting liaisons to the Board of Governors, as provided by the Special Committee on Non-Voting Board Appointments, which recently completed its report and recommendations.
A subcommittee of the Board’s Program Evaluation Committee will conduct further study on best practices for improving diversity on the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, including evaluation of any changes to the current standing board policy regarding non-voting liaisons appointed to attend Board meetings.
In other business, the Board:
- Heard that The Florida Bar’s first Virtual Annual Convention concluded with more than 8,700 program and event registrations, compared to about 1,000 for last year’s in-person event, and approximately 3,000 unique participants. The General Assembly, normally attended by 250-300 participants, generated 1,650 unique views. Recorded seminars and events are posted for continued viewing including nine free CLE programs.
- Voted unanimously to sunset The Florida Bar’s 2018-2020 legislative positions, including section and division positions, and to reactivate, as modified, the 2020-2022 positions. Legislative positions, information about Bar advocacy, and other links for those interested in the legislative process are available at floridabar.org/legislativeactivity.
- Approved the proposed amendment to Rule 6-3.3 Jurisdiction of Certification Committee to close a certification area if there have not been any applicants in five consecutive years, but as a new Rule 6-3.14.
- Approved proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Juvenile Procedure and the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The amendments will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court for consideration.
- Heard the Communications Committee report that the Bar’s COVID-19 pandemic page, at floridabar.org/covid19, which provides Supreme Court and Bar announcements and many member resources including free CLE, has recorded more than 68,000 views and continues to be updated with new information.