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Voluntary Bar Center: All Bar Conference Issues 1990-1996

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ISSUE 1. (1990) Adoption Of Florida Lawyer’s Creed of Professionalism By Voluntary Bars A special Florida Bar Commission on Lawyer Professionalism has prepared a voluntary creed of professionalism that is aspirational in tone and prescribes a higher standard of lawyer professionalism.
a. Should local bars adopt the creed?

b. Should observance of the creed be mandated as a condition of membership in such voluntary organizations?

a. Yea: 114, Nay: 49

b. Yea: 4, Nay: 159

ISSUE 2.A. (1990) Reimbursement of Board of Governors Member Expenses Should members of the Board of Governors be reimbursed, in all or part, for out-of-pocket expenses incurred for service on the Board?

Yea: 49, Nay: 118

ISSUE 2.B. (1990) Reform of Florida Bar Presidential Selection Process Should the method of selecting the President-elect of The Florida Bar be changed, from a vote by all lawyers to election by a representative group? Is so, what representative group would be appropriate?

Yea: 17, Nay: 131

Because of the result of the preceding vote, the conference did not act on the second aspect of the proposal.

ISSUE 3. (1990) Support of Petition for Provision of Legal Aid to the Poor A petition has recently been filed asking the Supreme Court to grant trial judges the power to appoint counsel for indigents in civil cases. Do you support granting such power to trial judges?

Yea 41; Nay 82

ISSUE 2.C. (1991) Presidential Campaign Reform Assuming the president of The Florida Bar is to be elected at large among our membership, should The Florida Bar consider campaign reforms regarding any of the following issues?

a. Should campaign contributions be authorized?

Yea 53; Nay 63

b. Should candidates be encouraged to solicit campaign contributions?

Yea 12; Nay 109

c. Should Bar members be encouraged to make campaign contributions?

Yea 3; Nay 115

d. Should contributions be limited to those from Florida Bar members?

Yea 81; Nay 14

e. Should in-kind contributions be allowed?

Yea 76; Nay 49

f. Should formal reporting or disclosure of contributions of candidates be required?

Yea 91; Nay 25

g. Should the dollar amount/value of contributions be limited?

Yea 111; Nay 11

h. What should be included in the definition of campaign contributions?

(1) Travel-related expenses?

Yea (unanimous voice vote)

(2) Postage?

Yea (unanimous voice vote)

(3) Printing?

Yea (unanimous voice vote)

(4) Social/meal functions?

Yea (votes ruled as prevailing by 2/3-1/3 margin)

(5) Clerical/secretarial support?

Yea votes and Nay votes ruled 1/2-1/2)

(6) Other?

(no vote taken)

i. Should the candidate’s personal or law firm’s expenses be treated differently than those from other sources for reporting /disclosure purposes?

Personal Expense:

Yea 23; Nay 91

Firm Expenses:

Yea 3; Nay 112

j. Should The Florida Bar provide, from its resources, funding for candidates?

Yea 13; Nay 113

k. Should The Florida Bar foster, in some manner, voluntary member contributions from candidate funding?

(no vote taken)

l. Should the time periods presently set forth in Bar policy regarding organized presidential campaigning be modified?

Yea 115; Nay 6

At the conclusion of delegate voting the chair sought a straw vote from the conference as to its continued support of the existing method of electing the president of The Florida Bar from within the membership at large. The votes in favor of retaining the present system were:

Yea 105; Nay 29

ISSUE 4. (1991) Merit Selection and Retention The Florida Bar has officially espoused the following positions regarding the merit selection and retention of trial judges within its formal legislative program :

a. The present, existing system for merit selection for appellate judges should be adopted for trial court judges.

b. A Colorado-style citizens board should be established to report retention recommendations.

c. Judicial Qualifications Commission decisions to remove a judge or justice from office or to impose other sanctions should be by a vote of two-thirds of the JQC, and its decisions should be binding unless overruled by no fewer than five justices of the Florida Supreme Court.

d. If statewide merit selection and retention cannot be obtained through the legislature and the required referendum for constitutional amendments, then the state should adopt local option merit selection and retention on an opt-out circuit wide basis.

e. A judge should serve a minimum of one year following appointment prior to any retention election.

Do you agree with each of these legislative positions?

ABC Recommendation

a. Yea: 100: Nay: 51

b. Yea: 134: Nay: 13

c. Yea: 63: Nay: 49

d. Yea: 119: Nay: 25

e. Yea: 144: Nay: 1

ISSUE 5.A. (1991) Minimal Practice Requirement

a. Shall The Florida Bar establish rules which require a six-month conditional admission to the Bar (following passage of the Bar exam), during which time the new admittee must establish fulfillment of minimal practice requirements? If so, can the minimal practice requirement standard be met by:

1) Law School Clinical Programs;

2) Commercially available and approved (NITA) practice experience;

3) Mentorship Programs;

4) Employer- supervised programs?

a. Yea 31; Nay 82

Following that vote, the chair sought an additional voice vote as to whether, if a minimal practice requirement were in effect, the standard could be met by various alternatives, as set forth in the original agenda.

1) Yea (mixed vote)

2) Nay (mixed vote)

3) Nay (mixed vote)

4) Nay (mixed vote)

ISSUE 5.B. (1991) Adoptionof Pre-Admission Internship Requirement Should The Florida Bar adopt an internship practice requirement as a prerequisite to admission to practice law in Florida?

Yea: 107, Nay: 54

ISSUE 6. (1991) The Future Role of The Florida Bar’s Certification Plan

a. Should The Florida Bar increase its efforts to explain the certification plan to the general public? If so, should The Florida Bar use its general revenue funds from mandatory dues to support promotion of the program?

b. Should The Florida Bar certification plan be expanded to include all areas of practice, including general practice?

c. Should sub-specialties be authorized either within existing certification areas, or in any newly recognized areas?

a. Yea 84; Nay 14

b. Yea 43; Nay 58

c. Yea 64; Nay 33

ISSUE 7.A. (1991) Selected Topics From the Gender Bias Committee Should The Florida Bar recommend to the Supreme Court of Florida that the Rules of Professional Conduct be amended to prohibit inappropriate, unprofessional behavior toward female litigants, witnesses and attorneys?

Yea 42; Nay 60

At the conclusion of delegate voting, the chair sought a straw vote from the conference asking the 60 ‘no’ voters whether a change of the word ‘female’ to ‘all’ in the proposal would have altered their vote. A total of 51 of those 60 delegates indicated that they would have had a different opinion if that change were made.

ISSUE 7.B. (1991) Selected Topics From The Gender Bias Committee

a. Should The Florida Bar recommend to the Supreme Court of Florida that, in all circuits where there are sufficient numbers of judges, a family law division be created?

b. If so, should such family law division include mandatory jurisdiction over all juvenile proceedings?

c. If not, all juvenile proceedings should be mandatorily included in the jurisdiction of a family court division, should any aspect of such proceedings be included at the option of the chief judge?

d. If not, all juvenile proceedings should be included in the mandatory jurisdiction of the family court division, should dependency matters be automatically included with no option for the chief judge to exclude it?

a. Yea 119; Nay 5

b. Yea 11; Nay 117

c. Yea 107; Nay 5

d. Yea 46; Nay 35

ISSUE 7.C. (1991) Selected Topics From The Gender Bias Committee Should The Florida Bar provide minimum guidelines for family leave policies for lawyers?

Yea 64; Nay 41

ISSUE 8. (1992) Clients’ Security Fund

(1) Should the Clients’ Security Fund be continued by The Florida Bar? If yes, at what payment level?

(2) What potential funding sources should be explored? Should dues be increased; should the per annum, per member dues allocation be raised; if approved by the Internal Revenue Service and Florida Supreme Court, should IOTA funding be sought; or should a special assessment be levied in the event the Clients’ Security Fund is insufficient to satisfy all eligible claims?

(3) If there are insufficient funds to satisfy all eligible claims and all funding mechanisms are exhausted, should the payments be reduced pro rata? Should the cap be reduced?

1. CSF should be continued.

2. CSF should be funded through Bar dues.

3. CSF should be funded at $15 per member.

4. CSF should maintain the $50,000 limit per claim.

5. Pay up to $10,000 per claim upon approval and pro rata balances at end of fiscal year.

6. Voluntary contributions should be encouraged.

ISSUE 9. (1992) Reporting Professional Misconduct Rule 4-8.3(a) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar states: ‘A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate professional authority.’

(1) Does the current rule work? If not, is an amendment necessary?

Voted 79-27 in favor of referring Rule 4-8.3 to the Bar’s Disciplinary Procedures Committee for review and clarification.

ISSUE 10. (1992) Legal Technicians ‘Legal Technician’ refers to a nonlawyer who provides services of a legal nature to the public for compensation without supervision by a member of the Bar .

a. Should legal technicians be regulated? If so, by whom and to what extent?

(1) What services, if any, should legal technicians be authorized to provide?

(2) What educational training or experience requirements should be imposed on legal technicians?

b. If legal technicians should not be regulated, what should be done, if anything, about the proliferation of legal technicians?

a. Delegates rejected the concept of any state regulation of legal technicians consistent with the Ontario model 67-34. When polled whether the Supreme Court of Florida should control legal technicians, assuming the necessity for some type of state regulation, the vote was 80-7 against that notion.

b. Voted 94-0 in favor of increased efforts by the Bar in those cases where legal technicians are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

ISSUE 11. (1994) CLE Issues

a. Should the Bar produce CLE programs?

b. If not, how would the Bar ensure that quality programs of timely educational value are available to its members?

c. If yes, should the Bar produce CLE programs to make a profit?

d. If yes, should the profits be reinvested in CLE programming and not used for other purposes by the Bar?

e. If no, should the general funds of the Bar be used to ensure quality programming if there is a deficit in CLE operations?

f. Do you have any suggestions to enhance the CLE programs produced by the Bar?

a. Delegates were in favor of providing CLE to members.

b. N/A

c. Delegates said Bar should strive to earn a profit but CLE should not be ‘profit-driven.’

d. Delegates failed to reach a consensus on what to do with CLE profits.

e. N/A

f. Some delegates suggested more live presentations to serve the outlying areas of the state.

ISSUE 12. (1994) Business of Lawyer Services

a. Should the Bar be in the business of teaching lawyers how to efficiently manage their office and practice?

b. If so, how much of Bar resources should be used for that purpose?

c. What programs should be offered, and how should they be prioritized?

d. What are the potential sources for funding?

a. Yes, delegates agreed, through the PRI program.

b. No consensus was reached.

c. The delegates wanted to see PRI provide more on-site consultations and support to local bar associations setting up their own law firm management committees. Other recommendations included setting up computer bulletin boards or a law network for attorneys to share information on practice management, asking law schools to have a course on practice management in their curriculum and establishing a Bridge-The-Gap section on management.

d. Money for such endeavors could come from vendor and malpractice carrier sponsorship to fund videos, and sections selling advertising in specialized publications.

ISSUE 13. (1994) Ethical and Disciplinary Issues

a. Are current rules of professional ethics and current disciplinary procedures effective?

b. If yes, why does the public perception differ, and what can be done about that?

c. If not, what improvements can be made to the rules and procedures?

ABC Recommendations

a. Delegates said current system works well, but public has little knowledge or appreciation of that.

b. Delegates agreed that more should be done to improve and encourage professionalism

c. N/A

ISSUE 14. (1996) How should The Florida Bar respond to the unmet needs of lower income Floridians and to increase access to the courts?

a. Should The Florida Bar support, or oppose, mandatory pro bono as a means of increased access to the courts?

b. Should The Florida Bar support, or oppose, the proposition that attorneys alone, though the provision of free legal services, assume the responsibility for providing legal services for the poor and ensuring access to the courts for all Floridians?

c. Should The Florida Bar support, or oppose, restrictions on the type and scope of legal representation which can be provided by the recipients of state or federal funding for legal services to lower income Floridians?

d. Should The Florida Bar lobby for increased state and federal funding for legal services to lower income Floridians?

ABC Recommendation s

a. Support 29; Oppose 90

b. Support 11; Oppose 107

c. Support 21; Oppose 88

d. Support 103; Oppose 15