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BOG: Meeting Summaries – July 2014

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The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on July 25, 2014. The major actions of the board and reports received included:

The terms of a $6 million loan to The Florida Bar Foundation were approved to offset low IOTA income and to be used for grants to legal aid agencies and to implement technology to improve the delivery of legal services to the poor. The Foundation can request the first of two draw downs on August 15. Interest payments begin one year after the first draw down with principal repayments beginning no later than January 2018. The loan is due in-full seven years after the first draw down. The August 15 issue of The Florida Bar News will provide additional details.

The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, representing 4,107 members who voluntarily joined the section, has received approval of its request to join in an amicus brief in the appeal of a 13th circuit court ruling involving an attempted divorce of a same-sex couple who legally married in Massachusetts but who now reside in Florida. In Shaw v. Shaw the trial judge would not enter a divorce decree for the couple because by statute and constitutional provision Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages. The dismissal of the case has been appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal (Case No. 2D14-2384). The Florida Bar, a mandatory organization with 98,922 members, will not and cannot take a position in this appeal. Amicus brief filings by a voluntary Florida Bar section, though requiring approval by the Bar’s governing board, are advanced solely with the voluntary dues and separate resources of those subgroups and clearly advocated in the section’s name only.

A proposed amendment to Rule 3-5.1(h) was approved regarding attorneys who voluntarily cease practicing pursuant to a consent agreement while the Supreme Court considers their discipline cases. In certain instances when the court makes a short suspension retroactive, some lawyers have completed their suspension before the court rules and are automatically reinstated to practice. The new amendment clarifies that those lawyers still are required to notify their clients in writing of the suspension.

A new board certification area of Juvenile Law was approved to be submitted to the Supreme Court as a rule amendment in October. Previously approved by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education as a joint proposal from the Public Interest Law Section and the Legal Needs of Children Committee, the certification encompasses special knowledge, skills and proficiency and professionalism and ethics in practice. Juvenile law is the area of law that inherently and directly impacts children. It includes, but is not limited to, dependency, delinquency, and termination of parental rights matters. It does not include adoption matters or matters arising in the context of family law proceedings not consolidated with dependency or termination of parental rights matters.

Former Florida Bar President Ray Ferrero Jr. announced that Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company is establishing an endowment to promote law office management, technology and professionalism in celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary. Ferrero, FLMIC’s chairman, said FLMIC and Bar officials will be meeting to determine the details for the endowment’s use. FLMIC’s primary objective is to provide to qualified attorneys practicing in Florida a financially sound, stable and perpetual source of lawyers professional liability insurance. The company is owned by its insured Florida lawyers, Pedro Allende of Miami was appointed to a two-year term in the ABA House of Delegates.

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