The Florida Board of Governors met on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Sarasota. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
REPORT ON QUALIFYING PROVIDERS
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics reported on the Supreme Court of Florida’s recent decision adopting amendments to Rule 4-7.22, including changing terminology from lawyer referral services to qualifying providers, and broadening the definition to include matching services, group or pooled advertising programs, directories, and tips or leads generators. An overview and a Q&A on the changes going into effect on April 30 are posted at floridabar.org/qualifyingproviderrule. At the direction of the Court, the Board, at its May meeting, will consider additional changes to the rule. A notice in the May 1 issue of The Florida Bar News will provide a summary of those changes and invite comments from the membership.
PROPOSED ADVERTISING RULE CHANGES
Responding to a federal court ruling and an order by the Florida Supreme Court, the board agreed to propose a rule amendment to allow lawyers to advertise that they are “specialists” or “experts” only if they can objectively verify that they meet or exceed standards under the Florida Certified Plan as set forth in Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar except for examination and peer review. Law firms that want to use the terms would have to have a majority of lawyers who meet the minimum standards. Disclaimers would be required under specific circumstances. This proposed amendment will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court on May 15; Bar members may file comments directly with the Court after the filing.
2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The just completed legislative session resulted in the restoration of some court funding lost to previous budget cuts and an agreement to give state agencies the authority to pay Bar fees for government lawyers. For a weekly recap of the consideration of bills of interest to the legal profession and positions taken by the Bar, Bar committees and Bar sections, visit floridabar.org/legislativeactivity.
BAR BOARD ELECTIONS BEST PRACTICES
New aspirational guidelines for Florida Bar Board of Governors election candidates encouraging professionalism and civility and discouraging campaign spending, were approved. As best practices, candidate for circuit seats and president-elect designate are also encouraged to limit expenditures, mass emails and phone banking.
CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION
The Special Committee on 2017/18 Constitution Revision reported that the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) committed 25 proposals to its Style and Drafting Committee which is expected to merge those into several proposals for the November ballot. The Florida Bar will focus on the remaining proposals that could impact Article V and the judiciary (many of the initial Article V proposals were withdrawn), and will continue to monitor the CRC while educating Bar members and the public on this important once-every-20-years process. For more information on the CRC, visit www.protectfldemocracy.org.
BAR PROGRAM EVALUATIONS
The Program Evaluation Committee’s reports on its review of Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., the Practice Resource Institute and the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion were accepted. The Board of Governors committee conducts in-depth evaluations on several Bar programs each year, including budgetary considerations, and makes recommendations for improvements.
NEW MEMBER BENEFITS AND DISCOUNTS
Two new member benefits were approved and will be added to the more than 60 free or discounted products and services listed at floridabar.org/memberbenefits: Amazon Business provides business-only pricing on millions of products and other advantages that meet the needs of all businesses, including law firms. Page Vault is a software solution that enables lawyers to easily save and print webpage content in a way that is forensically defensible while resolving the authentication issue and providing a “vault” for the storage of critical documents. It is anticipated these programs will be available to Bar members by mid-April upon completion of contracting with the providers.
IMPORTANT LINKS & REMINDERS
More than 1,000 brief videos are available to all Florida Bar members in the new Legal Accelerator, a virtual mentoring resource by the Young Lawyers Division. Ask a question in the search field and benefit from more than 100 attorneys and judges covering 500+ topics, including ethics and professionalism, health and wellness, and substantive legal questions. Login to your MyFloridaBar Member Profile to find the link to the Legal Accelerator.
The Special Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers is working to destigmatize mental illness, recommend best practices and remedies, and help bring more balance into members’ daily professional lives. Visit floridabar.org/member/healthandwellnesscenter for resources and assistance.
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 Mental Health and Wellness Town Hall meetings, the Bar’s Citizens Advisory Committee and the new Legal Accelerator, a virtual mentor resource by the Young Lawyers Division, on YouTube at FloridaBarNews.TV.