BOG Meeting Preview – May 2018
This email was sent to all Florida Bar members to provide information on items for action coming up at the May 20, 2018, Board of Governors meeting.
REPORT ON QUALIFYING PROVIDERS
At the direction of the court, the Board will be considering additional changes to the Rule 4-7.22 recommended by the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics. The Supreme Court of Florida adopted amendments to Rule 4-7.22 on March 8, including changing terminology from lawyer referral services to qualifying providers, and broadening the definition to include matching services, group or pool advertising programs, directories, and tips or lead generators. Here is an overview and a Q&A on the changes that went into effect on April 30.
PROPOSED ADVERTISING RULE CHANGES
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics will be considering a request for a rule amendment (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. The Bar’s Citizens Advisory Committee also supports the amendment, stating that the practice is misleading, particularly to vulnerable consumers.
FINAL ACTION ON CREDIT SERVICE CHARGES
The Board will be taking final action on a proposed rule change that would delete the current prohibition against charging a service charge for client’s use of a credit plan and allow lawyers to charge the actual charge imposed on the lawyer by the credit plan. Rule 4-1.5(h) currently permits lawyers to accept credit cards to pay for fees and costs, but prohibits lawyers from charging the client the credit card fee charged to the lawyer as a vendor.
PROPOSED ADDITION TO MEDIATION RULE
The Board is also set to consider changes to Rule 14-6.1, concerning grievance mediation and fee arbitration awards. The current rule allows the losing party in mediation and arbitration proceedings to argue “just cause” as a reason to avoid or delay paying the award within 30 days. The proposed rule adds a comment stating that lack of funds/lack of cash flow is not an excuse for not paying an award in a timely manner.
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 Local Hospitality and eHome Counseling.
Local Hospitality would provide Florida Bar members with worldwide private-label hotel booking website(s) with Florida Bar co-branding that includes most major hotel providers.
eHome Counseling provides counseling services through video and text. Florida Bar members could maintain complete confidentiality (no concern about being seen in a counselor’s office), save transportation time and cost, and meet with their counselor in the convenience of their office, home, or at a conference.