The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on January 20, 2017. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:
A new website for Lawyers Advising Lawyers, a no-cost peer-to-peer program giving members access to veteran attorneys to help answer procedural and substantive legal questions in 50 practice areas, was launched and the Board approved one hour of CLE credit for volunteer advisors who accept referrals with a maximum of five credits per year. Advisors must have a minimum of five years of experience in the respective area(s) of advice and must be a member of The Florida Bar in good standing. To become an advisor or to request advice, enroll online at http://lawyersadvisinglawyers.com/. The February 1 issue of The Florida Bar News provides more details.
Two new Florida Bar legislative positions were approved: opposing any amendment to the Florida Constitution that restricts or overturns the court’s authority to review the constitutional validity of legislation; and opposing any amendment to the United States Constitution that restricts or overturns the courts’ authority to review the constitutional validity of legislation. Also approved was reinstatement of six legislative positions from the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee. All current Florida Bar, Section and Committee legislative positions are posted here.
During the upcoming legislative session, beginning March 7, The Florida Bar will be monitoring constitutional amendments filed in the Florida House and Senate focusing on judicial term limits and other Article V issues. A Senate Joint Resolution, SJR 482, would limit Supreme Court justices to two six-year terms, DCA judges to three terms, require lawyers to be at least 50 years old to serve on Florida’s appellate courts and require Supreme Court appointees to have served at least one prior year as a judge. The House Joint Resolution, HJR 1, would limit the number of years Supreme Court justices and DCA judges may hold the same office to 12 consecutive years and prohibit appellate judges from being reappointed for one year after leaving office; appellate judges in office on January 9, 2019, and future appointees would be subject to the proposed term limits. The Florida Bar will oppose any proposed legislation or amendments that would limit the independence of the judicial branch or the authority of the judiciary through this and other legislative positions: The Florida Bar opposes term limits for judges at any level of Florida’s state court system. For information on legislation of interest to the legal profession, the session schedule, links to contact legislators and other information sources, how The Florida Bar may advocate issues and all legislative positions, please visit www.floridabar.org/legislativeactivity.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga gave an update on the state of the judiciary. An Overview of State Courts System’s Legislative Budget Request for FY 2017-18 and an Overview of Judicial Branch Priority Issue on Staff Pay are posted at www.flcourts.org. Through work groups, the Court is evaluating security procedures, practices and perceptions at Florida’s courthouses to improve security provided at trial courts around the state and studying the way guardianship works in the state courts system. The now-permanent Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice will continue its work at a meeting on February 3 in Tallahassee. Members of the Court in attendance were also provided with an update on Florida Bar strategic plan objectives and priorities by President William J. Schifino, Jr. and members of the Board of Governors.
An amendment to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar Rule 4-1.2 and a new Rule 4-6.6 were approved, which, if approved by the Supreme Court, would streamline conflict of interest procedures to make it easier for lawyers to render limited legal advice to Floridians through call-in lines, booths, or other venues sponsored by law schools, voluntary bars, legal aid clinics and similar entities. The proposed rule changes will be officially noticed in the February 15 Florida Bar News and will be filed with the Court on March 17.
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Lawyers Advising Lawyers is a peer-to-peer program to access veteran attorneys to help answer procedural and substantive legal questions across more than 50 practice areas. To apply to become a volunteer advisor and for more information, please visit www.lawyersadvisinglawyers.com