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Board of Governors Meeting Preview – January 2022

The following items are up for action or discussion at the January 21, 2022, 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.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Canady will address the Board with updates on the courts and the legislative priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session. In addition, Donny MacKenzie, executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation, will brief the Board on the Foundation’s One Promise campaign.

The Board is expected to consider a proposed amendment to Bar Rule 3.52 providing for the emergency suspension of lawyers facing felony charges in state or federal court. The Disciplinary Procedure Committee proposal was prompted by a June 11 letter from the Supreme Court in which the justices noted that Rule 3-7.2 “pertains to felony determinations or judgments of guilt, both of which only occur at the conclusion of the criminal matter.” If approved, the proposed amendments will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for final consideration.

The Board will also weigh a Disciplinary Procedure Committee proposal to amend Bar Rule 3-7.2 that would require Florida Bar members who enter any pre-trial diversion program in any criminal case, or who receive a censure or reprimand in another state, to notify The Florida Bar.

Also on the agenda is final approval of a Rules Committee proposal to amend Rule 1-3.5 (Retirement) that would require lawyers to affirmatively state their retired status when they indicate Florida Bar membership and prohibit retired lawyers from holding themselves out as able to practice in Florida law unless they are certified as emeritus lawyers.

In addition, there is a Rules Committee proposal to amend Bar Rule 4-1.6 (Confidentiality of Information) by removing the words “to another” from subsection (b)(2), which describes when a lawyer must reveal information. The changes are intended to make it clear that mandatory disclosure of confidential information to prevent death or substantial bodily harm includes harm to the client.

The Board will also be asked to affirm or reverse a Standing Committee on Advertising decision on whether the payment of a portion of a webinar registration fee to a third party who promotes the lawyer’s webinar on social media violates Rule 4-7.17, which prohibits paying for referrals, and whether the use of social media “promoters” violates Rule 4-7.15(c), which prohibits the use of celebrities in lawyer advertising.

In other business:

  • The Board is expected to receive an update from the COVID-19 Pandemic Recover Task Force on the potential for a fully automated, remote platform for the resolution of civil claims of less than $1,000.
  • The Board will consider a proposed Criminal Law Section legislative position that encourages lawmakers to “increase funding for the needs of the criminal justice court system in the State of Florida” to “ensure a more effective, efficient, and just criminal court system in our State.”
  • The Board will also participate in the 2022 Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards ceremony, which also honors Voluntary BarLaw FirmYoung Lawyers DivisionDistinguished Judicial Service, and Distinguished Federal Judicial Service pro bono efforts. The ceremony takes place at the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 3:30 p.m, and will be broadcast live on FacebookWFSU: Gavel to Gavel and the Florida Channel.