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Board of Governors Meeting Preview – January 2021

The following items are up for action or discussion at the January 29, 2021, virtual meeting of the Board of Governors as of today; changes may occur before the meeting. Please contact your board representative(s) if you have any input or questions. This Florida Bar News article provides additional details.

Chief Justice Charles Canady will speak to the Board of Governors about the pandemic-related challenges our courts continue to address and the courts’ priorities for the legislative session. The Chief Justice has addressed the board several times since the pandemic forced the closing of courthouses to the public in March and he appointed a workgroup to guide their gradual reopening, based on health expert recommendations and regional conditions.

A cost-saving plan to permanently conduct the Bar’s annual Fall Meeting remotely will be considered. An October 22 survey of 73 Bar committee chairs showed that 90% considered the all-virtual 2020 Fall Meeting “very productive” and only 10% considered it “somewhat productive.” Anonymous responses to the survey were mostly supportive of using a virtual platform, with many citing dramatic increases in attendance. Read more about this in The Florida Bar News.

The Board will receive an update from the Bar’s COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force. In addition to frequently updating the Bar’s COVID-19 Information and Resources webpage with the latest legal developments and health-related news, the task force is planning a member survey to help determine which legal proceedings the board should recommend continuing remotely after the pandemic subsides.

The Board Technology Committee will present an update on several committee projects, including recent negotiations with Zoom executives to develop platform features recommended by attorneys. Bar member feedback on “The Florida Bar Recommended Best Practices for Remote Court Proceedings” will continue to be accepted through January 20. Read more about the Technology Committee’s recommendations in the Bar News.

Also on the agenda for action:

  • Proposed amendments from the Disciplinary Procedure Committee to Rule 14-4.1 Arbitration Proceedings. The proposal would permit the Bar’s voluntary fee arbitration program to resolve disputes over costs that are common in fee disputes and include disputes over “such things as office charges for photocopies or online research as well as out-of-pocket costs for experts, deposition transcripts, filing fees and service of process,” according to a staff analysis.
  • Proposed amendments to Florida Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions 3.2 Aggravation. The amendment would add “failure to complete a practice and professionalism enhancement program required as part of diversion,” to a list of aggravating factors.
  • A new standing board policy to address bar election recounts when a candidate for a Board of Governors office is defeated by one-half of 1 percent or less of the votes cast for that office.

The full agenda for this meeting is posted here.