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BOG Meeting Summary – January 2016

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Report from The Florida Bar Board of Governors

The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on January 29, 2016. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:

President Ramón Abadin made a presentation on the challenges facing the legal profession and the changes technology has brought to the delivery of legal services, The Board discussed the presentation and the proper Bar response to member input regarding these challenges, and what the Bar can do to increase access to justice and help its members impacted by these challenges, particularly those in small firms. Private non-lawyer providers in the legal marketplace and options regarding these providers were also discussed. President Abadin, as well as several board members, said the Bar must act quickly on behalf of its members or it risks being left behind and perhaps eclipsed in the provision of legal services. Additional coverage of the presentation will be in the Feb. 15 issue of The Florida Bar News.

Efforts to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment establishing term limits for appellate judges will continue until the 60-day legislative session ends. The Florida Bar adopted a position to oppose term limits for any state court judges in Florida, either on the trial or appellate bench, during its Dec. 4 meeting after joint resolutions were introduced in the Florida House and Senate. The resolutions would limit appellate judges to no more than two appearances on the merit retention ballot, which, depending on when they were appointed, would give a maximum term of between 12 and 15 years. The legislative position was published in the Jan. 1, 2016, Florida Bar News A formal notice of the legislative position is published at this link. According to the National Center for State Courts, no other state in the U.S. has term limits for state court appellate judges.

The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics and the Board Technology Committee’s  joint efforts to study the future of the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and to respond to the Supreme Court mandate to suggest rules prohibiting lawyers from belonging to for-profit referral services unless owned or operated by Bar members will be discussed in a preliminary report at the Board’s March 11 meeting. The report will also address how the Bar should view private companies such as Avvo and LegalZoom as matching services for lawyers and clients versus referral services. The Board Program Evaluation Committee is also reviewing the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service and its report is also expected in March.

A proposed change to the comment to Rule 4-4.2 addressing when lawyers can contact public officials who are represented by government attorneys was rejected by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics, ending attempts by organizations affiliated with government lawyers to amend the rule or its comment.

A special committee has been announced to include law school deans, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, Supreme Court justices, and The Florida Bar to look at proposed changes to the certified legal intern rule and issues related to the Florida Bar Examination.

Important LinksJudicial Nominating Commission Vacancies: One lawyer vacancy on each of the 26 JNCs to be nominated by The Florida Bar – Application Deadline Feb. 26

Applicants Sought for Supreme Court Committee Appointments: Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and Bar Admissions Committee – Application Deadline Feb. 26

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[Revised: 02-04-2016]