BOG Meeting Preview – July 2018
This email was sent to all Florida Bar members to provide information on items for action coming up at the July 27, 2018 Board of Governors meeting.
REPORTS FROM BOARD REVIEW COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics has on their agenda a question regarding how lawyers can be paid by lawyer referral services — or qualifying providers — including considering several arrangements that are currently banned by Bar rules. Here is an overview and a Q&A on the changes to the lawyer referral services rule that went into effect on April 30.
The committee may report on the requests of three lawyer referral companies on whether they are qualifying providers under revised Bar Rule 4-7.22. 411-Pain and 1-800-Ask-Gary said they primarily want to refer callers who need medical assistance to their affiliated clinics and will send those who request legal assistance to participating lawyers at no cost. LegalRFQ wants to create an online system where potential clients could post their legal problems online and participating lawyers could submit bids for handling those issues.
In addition, the agenda includes a discussion on an amendment to Bar Rule 4-7.14, which allows attorneys and law firms that are not certified to advertise they are experts or specialists. This amendment is being presented to the board on first reading. Almost three years ago, a federal judge struck down the Bar’s rule prohibiting non-certified lawyers from saying they or their firms are experts or specialists. The Bar’s first attempt to redraft the rule — which said lawyers and law firms that substantially met certification standards could say they were experts or specialists — was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court. The court said the amendment “could lead to differing and inconsistent applications.” The board has a December 17 deadline to refile the amendment with the court.
FAMILY LEAVE CONTINUANCE PROPOSED RULE
The Board submitted a report to the Supreme Court last year recommending an amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration that judges, absent good cause, should grant three-month continuances to expectant lawyers. If the other side objects, the lawyer seeking the continuance would have to demonstrate why the delay would not prejudice the other party.
The court last year rejected the report on the grounds the board lacked the authority on its own to propose a procedural rule amendment. It then directed the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee to submit a report with majority and minority positions, to the court and to get the board’s input. The committee in June again recommended against such a rule (see story in the July 1 Bar News). The committee’s work will be presented to the Board at the July meeting for their input, and then submitted to the Supreme Court by their deadline of Aug.31.
NEW MEMBER BENEFITS AND DISCOUNTS ON SERVICES
Three new member benefits are being considered to add to the more than 60 free or discounted products and services already offered to Florida Bar members listed at https://www.floridabar.org/member/benefits/. From sending packages to sending flowers, from booking hotels to searching case law, and from refinancing loans to buying car insurance, the Member Benefits Committee works diligently to identify potential discounted member benefits that Bar members will find useful.
More than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers offer free trials, demos or initial services, including practice resources, legal forms and legal research. Under consideration at this meeting are adding discounts and services from Law Office Support Services, Tali, and Digital Age Marketing Group.
Law Office Support Services provides experienced and certified virtual legal assistant and virtual paralegal services for law firms.
Tali provides a hands-free, voice-activated, incremental time tracking solution.
Digital Marketing Age Group is a full-service, online marketing firm that specializes in lawyer website design and maintenance, search engine optimization, social media content marketing, video production for law firms, website creation, and directory sites for the legal “industry.”