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Board of Governors Meeting Preview – May 2021

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

The Board will hear the final report of the COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force and a task force subcommittee report detailing the results of a Bar survey on remote court proceedings. The task force acted as the Bar’s central clearing house for COVID-related information, and the creation and daily updates of the COVID-19 Information and Resources webpage was vital to the effort, according to the report. The task force also worked on projects that included longer deferrals of annual fees,  the addition of financial services to the Member Benefits Program to help lawyers cope with the economic fallout, and other items designed to help members adapt to the court system’s rapid pivot to remote technology.

The Board also will be presented with the results of a comprehensive Bar survey by a task force subcommittee on remote court proceedings that was emailed to nearly 4,000 Bar members from January 13-27 and generated a nearly 34% response rate. It found that most Bar members would prefer continuing conducting routine and non-evidentiary proceedings after the pandemic subsides, but not trials. See the Bar News story here.

In other Board action, the Bar’s General Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 will be on the agenda for final approval. It projects $41.44 million in revenues and $44.09 million in expenditures, with a $2.65 million operating loss. Even with a projected deficit, the projected ending fund balance of $27.5 million at June 30, 2022, will be sufficient to support basic operations for a few additional years and will not require the consideration of a fee increase. The budget will next be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court for its approval. Read more in the Bar News.

President Dori Foster-Morales will update the Board on plans for the hybrid 71st Annual Florida Bar Convention on June 9-12. Live events will include the General Assembly on Friday featuring the State of the Judiciary address by Chief Justice Charles Canady. All virtual meetings will be hosted on a consolidated platform with links to Zoom/Teams/Conference call information, which also allows for a virtual exhibit hall, personalized agenda pages for each meeting, attendee chat, and more to engage attendees and foster networking. Find out more on our Annual Convention page.

The Board is also expected to consider an appeal by Boohoff Law, a personal injury firm that filed television advertisements for review featuring the slogan “Better off with Boohoff” in December 2020. The Standing Committee on Advertising voted 8-3 on April 7 to affirm a staff opinion that the slogan is an impermissible comparison to other lawyers’ services under Rule 4-7.13(b)(3), but the committee voted 9-2 to reverse the staff opinion regarding Rule 4-7.13(b)(1), which prohibits predictions of success. The firm requested board review of the Standing Committee on Advertising decision.

In other business, the board is expected to consider:

  • Proposed amendments from the Board of Legal Specialization and Education to Bar Rules 6-8.4 (Criminal Trial Recertification) and 6-13.4 (Recertification) for appellate practice. Read more in the Bar News.
  • Proposed amendments to Rule 4-7.13 (Deceptive and Inherently Misleading Advertisements) that would slightly ease restrictions.
  • A proposed amendment by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics that would make disclaimers in advertisements that feature actors or dramatizations required only when necessary to avoid “misleading a reasonable viewer,” and make the wording of the disclaimers discretionary.
  • A proposed amendment to Rule 4-7.16 (Presumptively Valid Content) that would add social media contact information, including social icons and logos. The change would end the mandatory review of advertisements merely because they contain social media icons and logos.

The full agenda for this meeting is posted here.