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BOG: Meeting Summaries October 2015

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Report from The Florida Bar Board of Governors

The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on October 16, 2015. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:

The Board of Governors unanimously voted to reject admission by motion with or without reciprocity for Florida. Admission by motion/reciprocity is only one of the topics being considered by The Florida Bar’s Vision 2016 Commission, an initiative started in 2013 to identify and study a range of challenges facing the legal profession in four areas: admissions, technology, education and access to legal services. Vision 2016 will continue to deliver its findings and recommendations to the Board of Governors for further discussion, analysis and referral to board committees.

Ethics advisory opinion 14-1 was approved to advise lawyers on what they can tell clients about increasing the privacy settings of their social media accounts or removing social media postings that are or may be the subject of litigation.

Recommendations from the Board’s Program Evaluation Committee on the operation of future Annual Conventions were approved, including allowing virtual attendance at CLE courses, having conventions at convenient and family friendly locations, and eliminating paper – including tickets – from convention activities. More information on the approved changes will be in the November 15 Florida Bar News (which will be posted online November 9).

Five programs and services were approved to be added to the Bar’s Member Benefits: Ravel Law which analyzes judges’ decisions; Lawcountability which provides weekly cloud-based training programs on practice development for lawyers; Citrix Suite which offers technology products allowing lawyers to work from anywhere, including access files and participate in meetings; NedDocuments/NetDocs which helps lawyers manage and protect their electronic documents; and Entertainment Benefits Group, which offers tickets for a variety of entertainment venues, including movies, shows, theme parks, and sporting events. Current member benefits and discounts on products and services are listed at

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division in collaboration with The Florida Bar Foundation and The Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association invites all Bar members to join the Guardian Advocacy Pro Bono Project in observance of the ABA Celebrate Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, 2015.

The Legislation Committee is looking at bills filed in the House and Senate (SJR 322 and HJR 197) to limit the service of district court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices to two six-year terms and may recommend in December whether The Florida Bar and sections should take positions on the bills. Legislation of interest to the legal profession, important session dates, a list of attorney legislators and other information is available at The regular session convenes on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.

A final recommendation for an amendment to Rule 4-1.5 regarding hiring special counsel to negotiate lien modifications at the conclusion of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit will be made by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics in December. The Supreme Court has directed the Bar to file alternative amendments on or before Jan. 15. The full text of the amendments will be published prior to the filing. The language will include that such counsel should be hired only in special circumstances with the informed consent of the client and with a court’s approval. The committee presented two matters on first reading: a recommendation to remove the prohibition in Bar Rule 4-7.18(a) from contacting potential clients via telegraph or facsimile in order to conform to the Board’s recent decision to allow solicitations via text messages; and the modification of Advisory Advertising Opinion A-00-1 which prohibits lawyers from soliciting business in online chat rooms to conform to the text messaging decision. Official notices for member comment will be published in The Florida Bar News. Rules changes are being developed by the committee regarding the use of the terms ‘specialist,’ ‘expert’ and similar terms in lawyer advertisements after a recent federal court ruling. The Bar’s Ethics and Advertising Department, which reviews lawyer ads, will no longer find noncompliance for claims of specialization or expertise from non-certified lawyers but will point out to the filer that the advertisement makes claims of specialization or expertise, and the filer may use them only if the filer can objectively verify those claims.

A discussion was held but no action was taken regarding modernizing the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), the recent Supreme Court order to prepare a rule amendment banning attorneys from belonging to a for-profit referral service unless it is owned or operated by a Bar member, and the growth on online legal service companies which also offer “matching” services for attorneys and potential clients. The discussion included finding ways to boost the Bar’s LRS online presence, a possible partnership with a private company, whether online “matching” companies such as Avvo, RocketLawyer, and LegalZoom are referral services, whether Bar rules on referral services and advertising need to be changed, ways to use referral services and technology to match clients who need legal representation with lawyers looking for work, and how such efforts fit into the goal of improving legal access.

Code and Rules of Evidence Committee members made presentations on the committee’s recommendation that the Supreme Court not adopt into the evidence rules of procedure the law changing the standards from qualifying expert witnesses from the Frye standards to the Daubert standards. The Board of Governors tabled the matter until its December 4 meeting, which abuts the deadline for a decision, in order to have more time to review the committee’s findings.

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[Revised: 10-22-2015]