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BOG Meeting Summary – July 2018

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Report from BOGThe Florida Bar Board of Governors met on July 27, 2018, in Hollywood, FL. The major actions of the board and reports received included:

The Florida Bar has launched a new resource to assist Florida lawyers in the business of law called LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar. LegalFuel provides critical business tools and support for all attorneys, especially small-firm and solo practitioners. The site offers law office management and technology support for Bar members and a variety of free CLEs, and assists lawyers in running the business side of their law firms. LegalFuel also features an enhanced search that can quickly find articles on specific topics such as marketing or accounting, as well as provide a curated library of free webinars, podcasts and more. In addition, LegalFuel advisers are available via live chat to provide quick answers. Lawyers can connect and share information via the discussion boards, and advisers can assist by phone or email on practice management or technology issues.

The Florida Bar Board of Governors agreed unanimously with one abstention on July 27 to support the position that a parental leave continuance rule be added to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration by the Florida Supreme Court. The board’s input – which was requested by the Supreme Court – along with the majority and minority positions of the Bar’s Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, will be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court by August 31. The Supreme Court then could choose to consider a proposed rule on its own and, if it decides to will publish the rule for comments and may schedule oral argument. Florida Bar members who like to provide concerns or describe any relevant experiences, may email those to Krys Godwin at [email protected] by August 15. For additional information and background on the consideration of a parental leave rule, please see The Florida Bar News.

Three new Florida Bar member benefits programs were approved and will soon be available: Law Office Support Service, Inc., which offers virtual paralegal and legal assistants for attorneys and small law firms for a monthly subscription fee; Tali, a voice-activated time tracking system for devices using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa programs; and Digital Age Marketing Group which helps lawyers with their online marketing, including website development, search engine optimization, social media management, video creation, and building links to other online services. When the agreements have been finalized, these new programs will be listed with the more than 60 other discounted and free Florida Bar member benefits at www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits.

Florida Bar Foundation President Juliet Lippman and incoming executive director Dominick McKenzie discussed the Foundation’s recent strategic reset which became necessary after the recession and resulting low interest rates devastated its IOTA income. The three goals of the reset are to: collaborate with other parties in providing legal aid, including local legal aid agencies, the business community, the Bar, clerks of courts, and others; act as a monitor of the health of the state’s legal aid assistance programs; and be an agent of change as the legal community and marketplace undergo rapid transformations.

The Bar’s proposed new trust accounting program will begin a pilot late summer/early fall with about 20 firms eventually participating in the six-month pilot program, split among solo practitioners, and small, medium, and large firms. After the pilot is completed, a report on the pilot program will be considered by the Board of Governors for final action.

All Bar, section, and committee legislative positions from the 2016-18 biennium were sunset in accordance with Bar policy. In addition, rollover legislative positions for many Bar sections and divisions, committees and the Board of Legal Specialization and Education were approved, or agreed not to oppose: see www.floridabar.org/legislativeactivity for those positions. The Board of Governors Legislation Committee will make recommendations on renewing expired Bar positions at upcoming board meetings.

The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics has directed Bar staff to draft a proposed ethics advisory opinion on ways that lawyer referral services/qualifying providers can charge for their services. The committee published an official notice of intent to consider drafting a proposed advisory opinion after receiving an inquiry from a bar member about a participating in a lawyer referral service that charges a flat fee per referral that varies according to the type of matter. Traditionally, lawyer referral services have charged a flat charge to lawyers for participation during a specified time period, such as a flat rate per month or year.

The deadline for comments was extended to August 31 regarding possibly amending Rule 4-7.13 to prohibit attorneys from stating or implying another lawyer is affiliated with the advertising lawyer when that is not true and from misleading a consumer to contact the advertising law firm when the consumer is searching for another particular lawyer. The proposal is in response to a bar member request for a prohibition against buying the names of other lawyers or law firms in Google AdWords that would trigger the appearance of the attorneys’ online ads when users search for those other lawyers or law firms.

A recommendation to split the Florida Registered Paralegal Committee into two separate committees, one that will deal with eligibility and compliance issues and another to work to create an awareness of the program and its benefits was approved. The new Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment Committee’s mission will be in accordance with RRTFB Chapter 20 to enhance communication about the benefits of FRP membership, develop educational programming, and create networking and social events to foster camaraderie and cohesiveness of Florida Registered Paralegals and other paralegals/legal assistants.

IMPORTANT LINKS & REMINDERS

An important video message from Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer to all members highlights the new LegalFuel.com and details the Bar’s goals for 2018-19. Watch now!