Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales hosted Virtual Town Hall meetings in each circuit to discuss how Florida attorneys are coping during the pandemic and what the Bar can do to assist them in their legal practice and beyond. Head to the Virtual Town Hall page to watch your circuit’s Town Hall.
- The Board’s Technology Committee received feedback on the draft “The Florida Bar Recommended Best Practices for Remote Court Proceedings” from interested Bar members, members of the judiciary, sections, committees and other potentially impacted groups, and will be recommending revisions. Review the first draft of the best practices guide here.
- Feb. 18: The Florida Supreme Court issued an amended AOSC20-23 authorizing some remote criminal jury trials as COVID-19 pandemic conditions persist around the state. This order extends a similar authorization issued in June 2020 for some civil trials.
- Feb. 2: An amended order was issued by the Florida Supreme Court regarding judicial assignments: amendment 8 to Assignment Order 2020-92 assigning judges to statewide duty in certain criminal matters.
- The YLD has created a Supervised Practice Program webpage where potential supervising attorneys can sign up and be found by bar applicants. The attorneys are listed by geographical area and practice area, so that bar applicants can contact them and participate in the new program. Read about the Supreme Court order creating the program here.
- The Labor and Employment Section recommends this Florida Department of Employment Opportunity resource for unemployment claims. There is also this page for employers.
- Florida Bar staff are monitoring and responding to email and voice mail and call centers are open, such as: LegalFuel, Membership Services, Ethics Hotline, Attorney Consumer Assistance, Lawyer Referral Service, CLE Reporting. Phone numbers and a general contact email for each can be found on the Bar’s “Contact Us” page. All Florida Bar offices remain closed to the public due to continued concerns about COVID-19.
- The Bar’s Ethics Hotline remains available from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. This service is reserved for members of the bar in good standing. Take a look at the Aug. 26 article from the Ethics Department on client communications.
- Attorney volunteers are needed for Florida Free Legal Answers, the Bar’s online legal clinic that aids qualifying members of the public as they navigate the unforeseen legal impacts that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Florida Bar’s COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force has been working to identify and implement action items to help Florida Bar members. Here a summary of those items.
Although many in-person classes have been cancelled, the 24/7 OnDemand CLE catalog is active and LegalFuel offers many free online courses that may be helpful. You can also find online CLE through the COVID-19 Resources for Voluntary Bars page.
Status of CLE Courses
If you are registered for any in-person CLE events, you will be contacted by The Florida Bar regarding refunds and future scheduling.
The Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education will offer remote board certification exams this year for all 27 areas of law. The First cycle exams will be held March 11-12 and the second cycle exams are set for May 13-14, with the option of an in-person examination in Tampa adhering to social distancing protocols. Read the Bar News for more details.
Visit the Board Certification page for more information. Please submit your application as soon as it is complete to assist staff in processing the applications. Certification specialists are working remotely and continue to monitor and reply to emails.
Free CLE regarding COVID-19
LegalFuel, the practice resource center of The Florida Bar, has created a COVID-19 page with a collection of CLE for lawyers to help with the practice of law during the pandemic. Topics include remote work help, video conference tips, cybersecurity information, how to access business assistance programs and more. Visit LegalFuel.com to see the full listing.
Also, click “Free CLE” in the top menu on LegalFuel.com to get a list of all of their available free CLEs.
UPCOMING FREE WEBINARS:
Coping with COVID Articles
Practicing with Professionalism During the Pandemic – Judge Rodolfo Ruiz II, United States District Court, Southern District
Health & Wellness
- Mental Health Tips For Working Remotely (Rocket Matter)
- National Resources for Coping with COVID-19
- Lawyer Well-Being Starter Kit: 10 Tools and Strategies for Legal Employers (Florida Bar Journal)
Remote Practice Management
- 6 Tips for Lawyers Working Remotely From Home (Rocket Matter)
- E-Sign & E-Security (Free) Work-from-Home Readiness Program to Help End-Users During Crisis (RPost)
- Five Legal Malpractice Danger Zones for Florida Lawyers During COVID-19 (Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co.)
- Five tips to help you run your law practice from your laptop (Florida Bar Tech Tips)
- How to work from home as a lawyer (various resources from Clio)
- Risk Alert for Florida Lawyers on Cybersecurity (Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co.)
- Best Practices on Remote Appearances and Remote Hearings (Florida Supreme Court)
- How to Zoom Securely (LegalFuel)
- How to Install a Virtual Background (Florida Bar News)
- Maintaining Legal Decorum in the ‘New Normal’ (Special Column by Eugene K. Pettis, Florida Bar News)
Mental Health and Wellness Resources
The Florida Bar mental health helpline (1-833-FL1-WELL) is a free and confidential service that connects members with professional counselors. There’s no cost for calls to the hotline and you may be referred for up to three free telehealth counseling sessions per year to help you develop strategies to overcome life’s challenges, balance priorities, and better handle both personal and professional pressures.
Tenga en cuenta: Este número es sólo para miembros del Colegio de Abogados de la Florida (The Florida Bar). No es servició de referencia para asesoría legal ni es donde se presenta una queja en contra de un abogado.
In addition to the following resources, visit the Bar’s Health & Wellness Center for more information.
The Florida Bar COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force has heard from members that child care and elder care as well as other domestic tasks have been a challenge for Florida attorneys during the pandemic. The Florida Bar Lawyers Helpline (1-833-FL1-WELL) is a free and confidential service that can also help with locating these services.
Here are some other resources that can help locate child care, housecleaning, elder care and other services in your area:
Opportunities for Lawyers
Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service – The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service helps drive new business for Florida attorneys without a local lawyer referral service. The Lawyer Referral service provides members with more than 70,000 referrals each year in more than 120 practice areas, generating an estimated $3.49 million in new business for members.
Florida Bar Career Center – Job seekers can post resumes, apply to jobs, and read valuable career resources. Employers can connect with legal professionals across the state who are ready for their next career opportunity.
Florida Bar News Classified Ads – an essential placement service for the Florida legal market.
Florida Bar Attorneys Exchange – service for Florida lawyers to market their services to each other.
Law Practice Advice or Mentoring Opportunities
Lawyers Advising Lawyers is a free service offered to all Florida Bar members who may need advice in a specific area of law, procedure or other legal issue. If you confront an issue in an area of law or procedure unfamiliar to you, the program provides quick access to an attorney adviser with the experience to help.
Legal Accelerator collects information in one place needed by new lawyers or lawyers learning about a new practice area. It also features more than 1,000 videos from lawyers and judges addressing specific substantive legal questions, ethics and professionalism matters, professional development, and health and wellness.
The YLD Affiliate Outreach Conference is a long-time YLD program that will be virtual this year on February 5-6. It brings affiliate members together to share ideas and mentor each other, White said, and share initiatives for which the YLD awards grant funding. This year’s virtual event will include specific talks on dealing with pandemic issues as well as recurring issues seen in the yearly affiliate conferences.
The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee, unable to have its annual in-person conference this year, has set up a coaching/mentorship program aimed at helping leadership in local bars.
The YLD’s Find an Affiliate program helps young and new lawyers find a local bar young lawyers program near them.
More than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers offer free trials or initial services for Florida Bar members, including practice resources, legal forms and legal research. Take a look at the new Financial Services category, which will have some new services listed soon!
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company (FLMIC) has published a online resource that examines the malpractice “danger zones” for Florida lawyers during the pandemic. “5 Legal Malpractice Danger Zones for FL Lawyers During COVID-19” addresses several practices that may be increasingly common during the pandemic but which may trigger red alerts from a risk management perspective.
Fastcase has launched Fastcase COVID-19 Resources page, including:
- Fastcase webinars for remote CLE credit
- COVID-19 searches on docket alarm and ongoing Docket Alarm webinars with real-time information on COVID-19 litigation as well as past recordings.
- A live feed of Law Street Media COVID-19 coverage
The Business Damage Assessment Survey remains a piece of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s efforts to gather the information needed to evaluate and access tools to help businesses potentially lessen the impacts of COVID-19 and help the economy recover.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity provides a comprehensive overview of the state and federal resources available to small businesses affected by COVID-19.
The Office of the State Courts Administrator is tracking the status of the different counties in Florida. Visit their COVID page for the latest updates.
Several Florida judicial circuits have begun issuing orders regarding the suspension of jury trials, check the circuits’ websites below for the latest orders.
Five trial-court circuits across the state have been chosen to conduct a test of remote technology as a safer alternative to traditional in-person civil jury trials. Attorneys are encouraged to submit their relevant civil cases to the active pilot programs in the relevant circuits:
- Jacksonville’s Fourth Judicial Circuit comprising Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties. This circuit’s pilot program has concluded, read the report here.
- Daytona Beach’s Seventh Judicial Circuit comprising Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam, and Volusia Counties.
- Orlando’s Ninth Judicial Circuit comprising Orange and Osceola counties.
- Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit.
- Fort Myers’s Twentieth Judicial Circuit comprising Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee counties.
Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court has established a COVID-19 emergency webpage to serve as a clearinghouse for statewide administrative court orders, advisories and memos. The page also includes links to Florida’s trial courts and District Courts of Appeal for information about local court operations and orders.
MOST RECENT FLORIDA SUPREME COURT ORDERS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Feb. 18: The Florida Supreme Court issued an amended AOSC20-23 authorizing some remote criminal jury trials as COVID-19 pandemic conditions persist around the state. This order extends a similar authorization issued in June 2020 for some civil trials. Read more in the Bar News.
Feb. 2: An amended order was issued by the Florida Supreme Court regarding judicial assignments: amendment 8 to Assignment Order 2020-92 assigning judges to statewide duty in certain criminal matters.
Feb. 1: The Florida Supreme Court has extended the time period during which certain, specific requirements must be met in accordance with the rules governing board certification in Administrative Order No. AOSC21-2, the temporary measure will remain in place until October 31, 2022.
Jan. 19: An amended order was issued by the Florida Supreme Court regarding judicial assignments: amendment 7 to Assignment Order 2020-92 assigning judges to statewide duty in certain criminal matters.
Florida Office of the State Courts Administrator
Clerks of Court
The Clerks of Court has created a web page with links to individual clerk’s offices, and frequently updated announcements and resources.
|District Courts of Appeal
- ADR Webinar Series: Happiness for Lawyers Guaranteed … Or Your Misery Back – visit their website to watch any of the recorded sessions.
- Feb. 9: Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law – Continuing Covid Concerns: The New Normal in the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law World
- Feb. 12: Solo & Small Firm Conference – Virtually Irresistible Technology Efficiencies for Solo and Small Firms
- Feb. 16: Solo & Small Firm Section – Practicing with Machines: Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Technology Tools
For previous Section CLE webinars that were recorded, visit LegalFuel.com.
Bar Groups and Resources
The American Bar Association Coronavirus Task Force webpage is intended as a national source of information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the delivery of legal services. It includes resources on remote service delivery, court access and rules changes, legal needs, public benefits programs, and pro bono mobilization.
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA): https://www.abota.org/Online/Resources/Covid-19%20Resources/Online/Resources/COVID-19_Resources.aspx?hkey=d357b9b6-b809-4404-8c6b-4acdc6d358cf
The Florida Bar Foundation: https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/covid-19-and-legal-aid/
The Family Law Section has provided two videos on domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar is posting helpful information and guidance on COVID-19 pandemic-related topics.
Coronavirus Control & Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Please make sure you read the following information on the CDC’s website:
- CDC is now recommending double masks as it is more effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus
- The CDC recommends masks be worn indoors at all times when not at home. This is even when 6ft distance can be maintained.
- How it spreads
- Prevention and treatment
- Frequently asked questions
Watch this helpful video from CBS News with a Vaccine FAQ from Dr. David Agus, a professor of medicine at University of Southern California.
Update on a vaccine for children
Information on Florida’s vaccine distribution: https://states.aarp.org/florida/covid-19-vaccine-distribution
Moderna, Inc. announced its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective and provides details on it’s storage, possible usage and effectiveness.
Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective, another study from Pfizer demonstrates that its vaccine appears to be effective against the new variant.
As of Jan. 28, the rates of new COVID cases both nationally and in the state of Florida are on a steady decline. The 7-day average number of cases in the United States is down nearly 50% since the peak of cases on January 12. Hospitalizations have also gone down by more than 37,000. While these numbers are reassuring, the death rate continues to be high, with over 3,700 deaths yesterday. In Florida, the numbers of new cases this week are the lowest since November, with 7,711 reported yesterday. However, like the national statistics, the death rate continues rise, with 228 deaths reported yesterday. The positivity rate in the state is currently 8.76%. According to the Palm Beach Post, 1,367,011 people in Florida have received one shot of the two-dose vaccine, and another 421,315 are fully vaccinated: https://covidtracking.com/analysis-updates/outbreaks-ease-across-the-us-but-our-numbers-are-still-very-high-week-in-covid-19-data-jan-28;
Shareable resources on how to cope mentally with the challenges of COVID-19.
- Eli Lilly’s combination therapy of two antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, helped cut the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients by 70%, data from a late-stage trial showed in January. Articles on the Lilly treatment from Reuters and NY Times.
- Doctors continue to be puzzled about the phenomenon of “Long COVID,” circumstances where patients have C19-related symptoms persisting for more than 6 months after infection
- Study shows the most common “Long COVID” effects on children, include fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, insomnia and respiratory problems
- New European study shows minimal transmission of COVID-19 in primary schools
- Racial disparities on COVID-19, Black and Latino communities are especially hard hit by the virus
- Study shows babies in the womb get COVID-19 antibodies from their mothers
- Research continues to show COVID’s toll on our mental health, depression
- Study demonstrating that Eli Lilly’s drug prevented coronavirus infections in nursing homes.
- Concerns grow that UK C-19 variant may be more deadly
- New C-19 variant discovered in Ohio
- After COVID infection, new study shows immunity still strong after eight months.
- JAMA study: More that 50% of COVID-19 transmissions are by asymptomatic persons.
- The CDC on December 4 recommended “universal” indoor mask wearing when not at home, recommending that people wear masks at all times when indoors.
- Study from Korea in December shows that COVID-19 transmission in restaurants happened even when guests were 20 feet apart demonstrating eating at a restaurant as risky.
- Study seems to show that those with asthma seem to contract COVID-19 at a lower rate.
- Study showing that community control of the virus has an impact on efficacy of vaccines
- The New York Times has created a Vaccine Calculator to calculate your “place in line” for the release of the vaccine. Take a look here.
- 80% of COVID-19 infections take place at restaurants, gyms, hotels and churches
- New England Journal of Medicine confirms that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 continues to grow
- Confirmation masks provide protection to both the wearer and to the public
- Long-lasting cognitive deficits from C-19 infection
- CDC has clarified the definition of close contacts
- Evidence of re-infections
- Neurological manifestations with COVID-19
- Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome now being found in adults (not just children) with COVID-19
- Decrease of flu activity during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Symptoms and risks with a delayed return to health after COVID-19
- Florida Statistics
- National Statistics: from Stanford University and from John Hopkins University
- Information on vaccine progress
Florida Department of Health
All courts throughout the state remain open. To check the status of the courts by county and for links to contact the courts and clerks in your area, click the Court Order and Links tab above.
FTC infographic about vaccination scams, Three Ways to Avoid Covid-19 Vaccine Scams Infographic, here is this infographic in Spanish.
Here are links to other FTC pandemic-related consumer protection information:
- https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice (English)
- https://www.ftc.gov/es/coronavirus/las-estafas-relacionadas-con-el-coronavirus (Spanish)
Visit the Bar’s Mental Health and Wellness Center for resources for coping with impacts of COVID-19.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced the launch of Be SMART Florida, a statewide COVID-19 consumer awareness campaign asking Floridians to take small actions with proven results to slow the pandemic’s spread. Search #BeSMARTFL to keep up with the multi-channel awareness campaign.
Florida’s Chief Justice Charles Canady distributed “Best Practices” guidelines developed by a statewide COVID-19 Workgroup to help people navigate new remote procedures used by state courts in the coronavirus pandemic.
Legal Assistance & Legal Aid
- Florida Free Legal Answers is an online service that matches low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions. On April 8, The Florida Bar announced an expansion of this service.
- The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Servicr is designed to make it easy for consumers in counties without local lawyer referral services to connect to trusted, verified attorneys. See the coverage area or find your local lawyer referral service.
- Directory of legal aid organizations in Florida by county.
- Florida Courts Help provides information about local self-help centers, free and low-cost legal aid, and family law forms.
- The Florida Department of Elder Affairs Senior Legal Helpline — 1-888-895-7873 — provides free legal advice and brief services by telephone appointment to eligible Florida residents age 60 and older, for civil (not criminal) legal problems.
- The Business Law Section of The Florida Bar is posting helpful information for business owners on its website.
Florida Bar Consumer Guides
These pamphlets are not a substitute for hiring an attorney, but they provide basic legal information about the topics they cover.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers resources to help consumers, students with loans and homeowners with mortgages.
- Beware of scams related to the coronavirus
- What you need to know about student loans and the coronavirus pandemic
- Guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options
Attorney General Ashley Moody has activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline for Florida consumers. State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 866-9-NO-SCAM.
- Governor Ron DeSantis has been making regular announcements regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a COVID-19 page with for info on the CARES Act, SBA loans for small businesses, USDA crop insurance updates and more.
- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is posting information about reemployment assistance and other programs.
- Attorney General Moody issued a Cybersecurity Consumer Alert advising those working from home to guard against hackers and scammers that could access sensitive information on home computers.