The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on January 30, 2015. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
Fifteen legislative positions for The Florida Bar were approved for the 2012-14 legislative biennium. The new positions include calling for budgetary authority for government agencies to pay the annual Bar membership fees and CLE costs for their attorneys, getting state funding for the Florida Access to Civil Legal Assistance Act, supporting the Supreme Court’s annual certification of the need for new judges and calling for a comprehensive review of Florida’s death penalty process by all three branches of government. Information on the 2015 Legislative Session, contacting legislators and what The Florida Bar is advocating, as well as links to bills of interest to the legal profession, is available at www.FloridaBar.org/legislativesession.
Chief Justice Jorge Labarga talked about the new Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice and the importance of involving the business community and others in legal access issues. He also said a priority for the court in this year’s legislative session is increasing judicial branch pay. For more information on court funding: http://www.flcourts.org/administration-funding/court-funding-budget/ and Overview of State Courts System’s Legislative Budget Request for FY 2015-16 and Overview of Judicial Branch Priority Issue on Staff pay.
Justices of the Florida Supreme Court joined the members of the board in a review of issues that are facing the legal profession, including: a reduced demand for lawyers: online document companies seeking to serve people who can’t afford lawyers: growing numbers of self-represented litigants; nonlawyers providing legal services; a uniform bar exam; the status of legal education; and alternative business structures including nonlawyers having an interest in law firms. Coverage of the presentation to the justices and board is in the February 15 issue of The Florida Bar News.
Applications from Bar members are being sought by The Florida Bar for one upcoming vacancy on each of the state’s 26 Judicial Nominating Commissions. The Florida Bar will nominate three lawyers for each vacancy to the Governor for appointment. Each appointee will serve a four-year term commencing July 1. Applicants must be engaged in the practice of law and a resident of the territorial jurisdiction served by the JNC. Applications must be submitted no later than 5:30 p.m., Monday, March 2, 2015. Persons interested in applying for any of these vacancies may download the proper application form here or call Bar headquarters at (850) 561-5757, to obtain the application.
Professionalism Expectations, a document replacing the Ideals and Goals of Professionalism, was approved. The guidance originates both from the ethical duties established by the Florida Supreme Court in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the long-standing customs of fair, civil, and honorable legal practice in Florida. This Standing Committee on Professionalism definition is included: “Professionalism is the pursuit and practice of the highest ideals and tenets of the legal profession. It embraces far more than simply complying with the minimal standards of professional conduct. The essential ingredients of professionalism are character, competence, commitment, and civility.” For more information: www.FloridaBar.org/professionalism.
A new certification area in Condominium and Planned Development Law was approved. The certification will now be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court for a rule change. If approved, it will join 24 areas of board certification currently available. Certification requires that Bar members: practice law for a minimum of five years; demonstrate substantial involvement in the field of law for which certification is sought; pass satisfactory peer review of competence in the specialty field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law; satisfy the certification area continuing legal education requirements; and receive a passing grade on the examination required of all applicants or meet strict criteria to exempt the exam.
The Board of Governors is seeking applicants for the following vacancies to be filled during its March 27, 2015 meeting: Supreme Court Bar Admissions Committee – one lawyer to serve a two-year term commencing July 1, 2015; Florida Patient’s Compensation Fund Board of Governors – one lawyer to serve a four-year term commencing July 1, 2015; and Statewide Nominating Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims – three lawyers from the territorial jurisdictions of the first, third and fifth state appellate districts to serve four-year terms commencing July 2, 2015. Completed applications must be submitted no later than close of business, Friday, February 27, 2015. For more details and the application form, visit the Special Appointments webpage.
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