The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on January 26, 2018, in Tallahassee. The major actions of the Board and reports received included:
The Special Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers is holding four town hall meetings, seeking requests for information about establishing a 24/7 hotline/helpline for lawyers, and will soon be unveiling a focused Health and Wellness Center webpage with many resources for lawyers. A successful CLE seminar during the Bar’s Winter Meeting “The Secrets to a Happy, Successful Legal Career” and a limited-seating Miami seminar “All Rise! A Practical Guide to Lawyer Hope, Health and Wellness” were both videotaped and will soon be available for all Bar members to view. Visit the new webpage and bookmark it to access the growing list of resources available to Florida Bar members and see when the upcoming town halls are in your area.
Members of the Florida Supreme Court attended the meeting and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga reported on a variety of issues, including the Florida Access to Civil Justice Commission, live Facebook broadcasts, a new podcast program, exploring guardianship issues, and monitoring the Constitution Revision Commission.
The Florida Bar continues to provide technical assistance to the Constitution Revision Commission and a public education program for Floridians “Protect Florida Democracy: Our Constitution, Our Rights, Our Courts.” The Bar’s Special Committee on the Constitution Revision Commission in partnership with the Young Lawyers Division developed a 12-part video education series on each section of the Florida Constitution for the commissioners. The series is also available for free continuing legal education credit to all Florida Bar members. Course numbers are listed here. The CRC Education Series is posted here. The CRC recently announced the schedule for a second series of public hearings to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Pensacola and St. Petersburg.
As the board was meeting, the Florida Legislature completed its third week of the 2018 session. In addition to the hundreds of bills moving through the process, the House and Senate rolled out the first drafts of their budgets. The Florida Bar is monitoring the budgets, bills on appointments to Judicial Nominating Commissions, legislative review of federal and state court rulings, appointment of attorneys for dependent children with special needs, Guardian ad Litem direct-support organization, jurisdiction of county courts, and certification of judges. For summaries of legislative of interest to the legal profession and weekly updates: www.floridabar.org/legislativeactivity
A pilot program for the proposed free automated trust accounting solution for Bar members could be underway by Annual Convention. A special committee has been working with a technology provider on a program to help Bar members avoid technical violations of trust accounting rules and resulting disciplinary action. At present, The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute provides trust accounting and monthly reconciliation forms using Microsoft Excel free of charge, as well as other resources including the required compliance notice, FAQS and forms to open IOTA accounts.
An amendment to Bar Rule 6-10.3 was approved which specified that one hour of the five required CLE hours of ethics, professionalism, mental health and substance abuse and bias elimination courses during each 33-credit, three-year CLE cycle must be in professionalism. The Supreme Court must approve the rule change. For more information on professionalism CLEs, visit https://www.floridabar.org/prof/pcle/.
Based on a determination that an insurance product which reimburses attorneys for the costs incurred in representing a client in a contingent matter if the case is lost at trial may benefit the client, the Board decided that it may be permissible for attorneys to request reimbursement from their clients from any recovery for the cost of this “litigation cost protection” insurance. Bar staff has been directed to issue an advisory opinion which sets forth strict guidelines as to when an attorney may seek reimbursement for this cost and the requisite disclosures to the client. The February 15 issue of The Florida Bar News provides more details on the Board’s discussion.
Amendments requested by the Supreme Court to the proposed rules to allow attorney spouses to military personnel stationed in Florida to practice under certain conditions were approved. The changes set a five-year limit on the practice and require those qualified to be mentored by a Bar member or associated with a Florida law firm. The petition was filed with the Supreme Court on Monday, Jan. 29, case number SC18-158.
The Young Lawyers Division launched a Legal Accelerator website, a one-stop hub for advice on issues frequently faced by young lawyers. All Florida Bar members may benefit from the guidance provided. Log in to the Members Portal to access the site.
IMPORTANT LINKS & REMINDERS
Certificates of good standing may now be printed through the Members Portal under the “Additional Links” section. Log in to access and print certificates as needed. Contact Membership Records if additional assistance is needed: [email protected]
Discounts on products and services used by Florida Bar members every day are available at www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits with new benefits added frequently.
Follow The Florida Bar and many programs, sections and committees on social media for the news and information: FloridaBar.Org/SocialMedia.
Watch new video segments on the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program’s tapping of The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section’s experience and expertise, the Florida Supreme Court’s new Beyond the Bench podcast, and the YLD’s Legal Accelerator on YouTube at FloridaBarNews.TV.