The Florida Bar

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions About The Florida Bar

What is The Florida Bar?

The Florida Bar is the organization of all lawyers who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Florida to practice law in the state. Any lawyer desiring to practice law in Florida must be a member of The Florida Bar. Review the history of The Florida Bar and the Petition of Florida State Bar Ass’n et al. Supreme Court of Florida, en banc., June 7, 1949

 

What is The Florida Bar’s official governmental status?

Article V, Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Florida gives the Supreme Court of Florida exclusive and ultimate authority to regulate the admission of persons to the practice of law and the discipline of those persons who are admitted to practice. The Court performs those official functions through two separate arms: the Florida Board of Bar Examiners , which screens, tests and certifies candidates for admission to the practice; and The Florida Bar, the investigative and prosecutorial authority in the lawyer regulatory process. Neither of these two agencies, nor any of their functions, is supported by state tax dollars.

 

What are the responsibilities of The Florida Bar?

The Florida Bar’s core functions are to prosecute unethical lawyers through the Attorney Discipline system; administer a client protection fund to cover certain financial losses a client might suffer due to misappropriation by a lawyer; administer a substance abuse program; and provide continuing education services for lawyers. The Florida Bar provides many other services to members and the public, including publishing legal periodicals, administering a public information program, providing ethics and law office management advice, and sponsoring conferences and meetings. Read the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar.

Find out more about what we do and  see our listing of consumer pamphlets for more information.

How many lawyers are licensed to practice law in Florida?

TFB Roster Report (as of 12/01/2019)

Eligible to Practice
And In Good Standing
Eligible Attorneys 89,407
By Gender:
Males 54,303 61%
Females 35,101 39%
Unknown 3 <1%
By Location:
Florida 76,516 86%
Out-of-State 12,625 14%
Foreign 266 <1%
Not Eligible to Practice
But In Good Standing
By Ineligibility Reason:
Military Service 162
Active Military Fee Waiver 27
CLE Exempt due to Hardship 46
Non-Resident CLE Exempt 1,963
Judges 1,456
Total Not Eligible but In Good Standing 3,654
Not Eligible to Practice
Not In Good Standing
Delinquent:
Membership - Fees 1,767
Basic Skills 1 25
Basic Skills 2 19
Continuing Legal Education 480
Lawyer Reg - Cost 1
Lawyer Reg - Restitution 0
Lawyer Reg - Diversion 1
Fee Arbitration 0
Total Delinquent 2,293
Other Reasons:
Inactive 12,254
Incapacitated (Inactive) 119
Suspended 214
Total Not Eligible 14,880
Eligible to Practice:89,407
In Good Standing:93,061
Total Members:107,941

Rule 1-3.2(a) Members in Good Standing:  Members of The Florida Bar in good standing shall mean only those persons licensed to practice law in Florida who have paid annual membership fee or dues for the current year and who are not retired, resigned, delinquent, inactive, or suspended members.

Rules 3-7.13(a) Classification and Effect of Incapacity:  Whenever an attorney who has not been adjudged incompetent is incapable of practicing law because of physical or mental illness, incapacity, or other infirmity, the attorney may be classified as an inactive member and shall refrain from the practice of law even though no misconduct is alleged or proved.

 

Can I place a public records request to order lists of member data and labels (Addressing Services)?

Florida Bar member addresses and other basic licensee data that is not otherwise exempt from public disclosure may be obtained through a written public records request or by submitting the Public Records Request for Florida Bar Membership Data form to The Florida Bar as further detailed in the Public Records Request page.

 

How do I get a Certificate of Good Standing as a member of The Florida Bar?

A Certificate of Good Standing is available online through the Members Portal under Additional Links. Please log in to the member’s portal to access the document. If you are unable to locate the certificate of good standing on the portal page, please email the Membership Department for assistance. Members may call The Florida Bar Membership Records Department at 800-342-8060 ext. 5831.

Who can practice law in Florida?

Generally speaking, you must be a member of The Florida Bar in order to practice law in Florida. There are some limited exceptions established by rule or law. For example, the following chapters of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar allow limited practice in Florida without being admitted:

Chapter 12, Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono Participation Program
Chapter 13, Authorized Legal Aid Practitioner Rule
Chapter 16, Foreign Legal Consultancy Rule
Chapter 17, Authorized House Counsel Rule
Chapter 18, Military Legal Assistance Counsel Rule

There may be other exceptions allowed by law. Call the Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Department, 850-561-5840, for additional information.

 

Who admits lawyers to the practice of law in Florida?

The Florida Bar as an organization has no direct control over attorney admissions. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is the entity charged by the Florida Supreme Court with assuring that only qualified persons will be admitted to the practice of law in this state. The Board of Bar Examiners investigates the character and fitness of applicants, develops and administers the bar examination for attorney candidates, and submits for Supreme Court approval the names of those qualified for admission to practice.

 

How can I find a qualified lawyer to handle my legal problem?

The Florida Bar offers several services to help people find an attorney.

  • The online Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, available 24-7, connects consumers with the right lawyer in a matter of minutes. You can also obtain a referral over the phone by calling 1-800-342-8011 during regular business hours.
  • The consumer pamphlet How to Find a Lawyer in Florida provides an overview of what to consider when selecting an attorney. It also includes a list of questions to ask and information about fee structures. Legal aid may be available; read the Legal Aid in Florida consumer pamphlet for more information.
  • The Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education oversees and administers the board certification program. Board certification is a voluntary program with standards established by the Supreme Court of Florida to identify attorneys who have special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well a reputation for professionalism in the practice of law. Experience, testing and peer review are key components of certification. Find a board-certified lawyer.

 

What is the unlicensed practice of law?

The unlicensed practice of law, in its simplest terms, is when someone who is not licensed or otherwise authorized to practice law in Florida practices law. In determining whether the giving advice and counsel and the performance of services in legal matters constitute the practice of law, it is safe to follow the rule that if giving such advice and performance of services affect important rights of a person under the law, and if the reasonable protection of the rights and property of those advised and served requires that the persons giving such advice possess legal skill and knowledge of the law greater than that possessed by the average citizen, then the giving of such advice and performance of services by one for another constitutes the practice of law. Visit the Unlicensed Practice of Law Consumer Help page.

 

Does the Bar license paralegals?

The Florida Bar does not license paralegals, though it does administer the voluntary Florida Registered Paralegal Program. The program, established in 2008, provides for voluntary registration of paralegals who meet minimum educational, certification or work experience and who agree to abide by an established code of ethics.

Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar establishing the program does not set forth the duties paralegals may perform or deal with the fees that can be charged or awarded for the work they do. The primary responsibility for monitoring the work of paralegals — whether Florida Registered Paralegals or not — rests with the attorneys who employ or supervise them. Additionally, The Florida Bar has the authority to investigate and prosecute the unlicensed practice of law, which may include activities performed by nonlawyers who call themselves paralegals. Under Florida Bar rules approved by the Supreme Court of Florida, only a nonlawyer who is working under the direction and supervision of a member of The Florida Bar may use the title paralegal. A nonlawyer who is not working for a lawyer and uses this title is engaging in the unlicensed practice of law. If you have questions regarding the unlicensed practice of law or if you wish to file a complaint against someone practicing law without a license, call the Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Department at 850-561-5840.