The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on December 12, 2014. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
Guidelines on using past results in indoor and outdoor display, radio, and television advertising were repealed. The action came after a federal judge issued an injunction against enforcing the guidelines saying they violate the First Amendment (Case No. 14-CIV-20786-BLOOM/Valle), and a public opinion survey showed consumers are skeptical of and not misled by past results. Those ads, however, must still be objectively verifiable and make no material omissions. These actions do not change the latest version of the advertising rules that were adopted by the Supreme Court in January 2013. In addition, President Greg Coleman asked the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics to study advertising review and appeal procedures.
Legislative positions to support keeping the Supreme Court in charge of regulating the legal profession and advocating for adequate funding for the court system were reauthorized. Additional Bar legislative positions will be considered at the board’s January 2015 meeting.
The new Practice Resource Institute, a free online service for Florida Bar members set to go live February 1, was previewed. The PRI will provide assistance in practice management, marketing, firm management and technology, and resources for setting up new practices. Another feature will be a live chat with an advisor and there will be a directory of discounted member benefits for technology, practice management and financial assistance. President Coleman said the site is being beta tested now and will be introduced at the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section’s technology seminar for solo and small firms at the Bar’s Winter Meeting in January.
An amendment to the comment to Rule 4-5.8 was approved. The rule governs the duties of lawyer and law firms to contact clients when a lawyer leaves a law firm or a law firm breaks up. The amendment addresses how and which clients must be informed of changes in a firm and provides that such communications must be reasonable in timeliness and nature. The amendment will be submitted to the Supreme Court for its approval. A Florida Bar News article, ‘What must you tell clients when leaving a firm?,’ contains additional information.
A report by John M. Stewart, chair of the Vision 2016 Technology Committee, President Coleman and President-elect Ray Abadin highlighted the immediate challenges members of the legal profession face from the increased availability of legal services and legal forms by online providers. Recommendations from the committee will be presented to the board in January to address these issues. The Vision 2016 Commission continues to complete its work in legal education, bar admissions, technology and access to legal services.
The following appointments were made: Eugene Pettis to a six-year term on the Judicial Qualifications Commission; Mark A. Perry reappointed to a three-year term on the Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., Board of Directors; and Kerry Anne Schultz, Mercedes G. Hale, Thomas D. Wright, Stephen B. Bull and G. Thomas Ball to two-year terms on the Florida Realtor-Attorney Joint Committee.
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