The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on July 21, 2017. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:
Three new special committees were approved: the Special Committee on Mental Health will spend two years looking at Florida’s mental health laws and educating judges and lawyers on the best practices of dealing the parties and clients with mental health issues; the Special Committee on Child and Parent Representation will spend the next year looking at issues related to dependency representation; and the Special Committee on Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers will look at mental health and practice issues facing lawyers. The lawyer’s health and wellness committee will be chaired by Board of Governors member Dori Foster-Morales, will include a judge, a mental health professional, and a member of the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, and is already considering input, programs, and solutions. Watch for more details on these special committees in upcoming issues of The Florida Bar News.
The Standing Committee on Technology recently issued, through the Practice Resource Institute, a Quick Start Guide on Cloud Computing answering basic questions, such as what cloud computing means and where information is stored, and providing questions to ask of a potential provider. The committee also annotated a longer, more detailed, list of standards for cloud computing in its Due Diligence Considerations for Lawyers Evaluating Cloud Computing Service Providers incorporating information from the Legal Cloud Computing Association. The committee continues to focus on protecting data and client confidences for lawyers, including security for laptops and protecting electronic communications with clients.
The board approved drafting an opinion to reply to a Bar member’s inquiry about the propriety of participating in a referral service that would charge a varying fee based on the type of case referred, which would also be a fee-per-case referral. The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics will publish an official notice seeking input from Bar members and work to have the draft ready for the Board’s review at its December or January meeting. The Bar has rejected referral services that charge by the case or had different charges for different types of cases, but some other states have taken other positions on those issues.
The Special Committee on the 2017 Constitution Revision will launch the public education program “Protect Florida Democracy: Our Constitution, Our Rights, Our Courts” at a September 7 news conference in Tallahassee. The program’s www.ProtectFLDemocracy.org is now available and more information is being added, including “toolkits” for lawyers who want to get involved in the education effort. The program highlights topics such as the separation and balance of powers, why the Constitution works best as a limited document, and the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary. The July 1 Florida Bar News story FloridaBarNews.TV segment and future issues will include more details. The special committee is also monitoring the activities of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), offering technical assistance and legal education to the commissioners.
Two new technology-related services were approved to add to the Bar’s Member Benefits Program. Zola Media Website Design and Maintenance will help lawyers with their websites, and Cyber Security Insurance Product and Service will help lawyers with cybersecurity issues. The services will soon be added to the list of discounted and free products and services for members posted at www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits.
A proposed contract to enhance and modernize the online operations of the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service was approved, but terms have not yet been finalized. Working with Legal.io, a San Francisco-based legal technology company, a new online platform will be designed that would modernize the Bar’s existing legal referral service and allow it to utilize the most cutting edge technology. The goal is an improved member benefit with better functionality for potential clients that should result in more referrals being made to participating Bar members. The Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service will continue to only operate in those counties where a Voluntary Bar does not already operate a lawyer referral service. Any modernization of the Florida Bar’s online operations will not affect any Voluntary Bar Association Lawyer Referral Services as they will continue to operate as they have in the past. The Bar will continue to work with the Voluntary Bar Associations in an effort to coordinate, secure and enhance their own lawyer referral services. More details are included in the August 15 Florida Bar News which will be posted approximately one week before the publication date.
The Communications Committee presented to the Board the new templates for all official Florida Bar emails, including the one this summary appears on, which apply the new website colors and styles. (As part of the Bar’s effort to assist members in identifying legitimate emails from The Florida Bar, please remember that emails from The Florida Bar to members will always: be from a sender email email@example.com; if the notice is for a payment, ask members to first log in to the MyFloridaBar Members Portal with their user name and password; and include contact information for a Bar department if members have questions. If you have any question about whether an email is a legitimate Florida Bar email, please call the Bar before opening any attachments or clicking any links. The Practice Resource Institute (PRI) lists tips and links to other resources for Florida Bar members to protect their computers from malware at https://pri.floridabar.org, and members may also call, email or chat with a PRI practice management adviser about cybersecurity).
One of the new features of the redesigned Florida Bar website is a Bar Blog. The latest blog post features a new column on mindfulness, part of President Michael Higer’s efforts to raise awareness of mental health issues in the legal profession.
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