The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on October 12, 2018, in Amelia Island, FL. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
The Board was closely monitoring Hurricane Michael and focused on how to help Bar members and the public impacted by the storm. Bar efforts included updating The Florida Bar Hurricane Information page and the newly created pop-up ad directing visitors to those resources. This page is being continually updated as additional assistance or volunteer opportunities become available. President Michelle Suskauer sent a message before the storm alerting Bar members about the page containing disaster resources and contacts for those impacted and for lawyers who wanted to volunteer.
In addition, YLD President Christian George updated the Board on efforts to get Florida lawyer volunteers for the FEMA Florida Legal Disaster Hotline and working with the ABA to activate the hotline. Members are encouraged to volunteer now as storm victims are beginning to call the hotline.
The Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve a proposed formal advisory ethics opinion regarding for-profit qualifying providers who match clients with lawyers. Qualifying providers include lawyer referral services, online matching services, directories, group or pooled advertising programs, and tips or leads programs. The proposed advisory opinion will be published for member input and comments must be postmarked no later than Dec. 3. Information on the April 30 changes to the lawyer referral service rule can be found in an overview and a Q&A. Read more in the Nov.1 Florida Bar News.
The Board also discussed whether certain online referral services met the definition of qualifying providers. The board voted unanimously that the online referral service, “LegalRFQ,” is a qualifying provider; and that “411-Pain,” and “Ask Gary,” were qualifying providers, with one Board member objecting.
The Board unanimously approved a new proposed amendment that removes parts of Bar advertising Rule 4-7.14, banned in a 2015 federal ruling, and adds new subdivisions to comply with the federal court’s order and the concerns of the Florida Supreme Court. The new portions would allow non-certified attorneys to call themselves “specialists” or “experts” if they can objectively verify the claim based on the lawyer’s education, training, experience, and “substantial involvement” in the area of practice. The amendment will now go the Florida Supreme Court.
President Suskauer briefed the board on the Florida Bar Criminal Justice Summit held October 16-17 in Tampa. The featured speakers included Dr. Gipsy Escobar, director of research and analytics, Measures for Justice; Len Engel, director of policy and campaigns, Crime and Justice Institute; Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney, Innocence Project; Justice Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit; and Sarah E. Redfield, professor emerita, University of New Hampshire School of Law. Eight workshops with panels discussed: sentencing reform, pretrial release, direct file of juveniles, specialty courts, juvenile sentencing, mental health, conviction integrity and offender re-entry. Watch for coverage of the event in the Nov. 15 issue of The Florida Bar News, and in the January/February issue in The Florida Bar Journal.
A Young Lawyers Division member survey on mental health was approved. “YLD Mental Health and Wellness Survey: A Needs Assessment of Mental Health Needs and Available Services for Florida Lawyers” will determine causes of mental health issues in the legal profession and identify solutions.
IMPORTANT LINKS & REMINDERS
A short video message (3 minutes) from Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer discusses the Criminal Justice Summit, calls for pro bono award nominations and highlights the newest LegalFuel Speaker Series CLE video.
Visit LegalFuel for tools designed to help you fuel your law practice with increased efficiencies & profitability.
Pro Bono Award Nominations are Open!
Nominate a colleague, firm or local bar who has contributed extraordinary pro bono service by November 1.