BOG Meeting Preview – March 2018
This email was sent to all Florida Bar members to provide information on items for action coming up at the March 23, 2018, Board of Governors meeting.
REPORT ON QUALIFYING PROVIDERS
The Board of Governors will hear a report on the adoption of amendments to Rule 4-7.22 on qualifying providers by the Supreme Court of Florida. Terminology is changed from lawyer referral services to qualifying providers, and the definition is broadened to include matching services, group or pooled advertising programs, directories, and tips or leads generators. Some unnecessary restrictions have been dropped, while requirements to protect the public have been added. Changes go into effect April 30, 2018.
PROPOSED ADVERTISING RULE CHANGES
Limiting claims of specialization or expertise The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics is working on amendments to rule 4-7.14(a)(4) as directed by the Supreme Court of Florida in response to a ruling two years ago by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle that invalidated a Bar rule limiting what lawyers could claim in advertising. Within subdivision (a)(4) and the commentary, omits the terms “specialist” and “expert” as terms prohibited unless the lawyer is board certified. Adds new subdivisions (a)(5) and (a)(6) and commentary adding that lawyers may use of terms “specialist” and “expert” if they meet certain requirements and that law firms may claim specialization or expertise if they meet certain requirements, but requiring a disclaimer that the lawyer or law firm is not certified under certain circumstances. Prohibit use of the name of another lawyer or law firm to trigger an Internet search result Another possible advertising rule amendment would add a new subdivision and commentary to Rule 4-7.13 that would state it is inherently misleading or deceptive for a lawyer to intentionally use, or arrange for the use of, the name of a lawyer not in the same firm or the name of another law firm as words or phrases that trigger the display of the lawyer’s advertising on the Internet or other media, including directly or through a group advertising program. For example, the proposal would ban the purchase of another lawyer’s name in Google ad words.
PROPOSED BAR BOARD ELECTIONS BEST PRACTICES
These proposed guidelines are meant to encourage candidates to maintain the highest professional standards and uphold the integrity and independence of the profession while maintaining professionalism and civility. Mindful of candidates’ rights under the First Amendment, this proposed addition to Standing Board Policy would not curtail free speech, but seeks to provide guidance on best practices including campaign communications, advertisements, phone banks, bar approval, endorsements, and membership data.
NEW MEMBER BENEFITS AND DISCOUNTS ON SERVICES
Two 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 Amazon Business and Page Vault.
Amazon Business provides business-only pricing on millions of products and other advantages that meet the needs of all businesses, including law firms.
Page Vault is a software solution that enables lawyers to easily save and print webpage content in a way that is forensically defensible. It resolves the authentication issue and provides a “vault” for the storage of critical documents derived from a URL site.