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The Florida Bar Journal
February, 2018 Volume 92, No. 2
The Benefits Go Beyond the Bar

by Michael J. Higer

Page 4



If you are a member of The Florida Bar, this message is for you: Membership has benefits!

This is especially true if you are among the overwhelming majority of lawyers who practice in small or solo law firms. In Florida, 33 percent of us are solo practitioners; 65 percent of us work in firms of five or less lawyers; 76 percent are in law firms of 10 or less lawyers; and 30 percent of Florida Bar members are young lawyers. These demographics should, and do, dictate the delivery of meaningful member benefits.

But just as important as making sure members have benefits that will make a difference, is making sure members know about them — so listen up.

The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute (PRI) exists to help attorneys with law office management and technology issues or concerns. PRI advisors are standing by to help with the business-related aspects of running a law firm. They are experienced practice management advisors who provide advice, assistance, and support — all free of charge. PRI’s mission is to help attorneys implement best practices into their law firms — especially because they know many of us are fluent thinkers in the law, but not necessarily knowledgeable about business management and technology solutions. You can chat with them online, give them a call, or send them an email with your questions.

And there is no need to scramble to find CLEs, because there are over 57 hours of general CLE on practice management and technology solutions available 24/7 on the Bar’s PRI website, and they are free — yes, free. All you need to do is click and play.

If you need a resource for caselaw, no problem. One of the most trusted online resources for legal research, Fastcase’s Florida library and content, is available free of charge to Florida Bar members. In 2017, Fastcase 7 was rolled out with significant improvements to performance. There are six ways to filter your search results, and you can rank the most important of seven factors, bringing the most relevant documents to the top of the list. Access to Fastcase “classic” and Fastcase 7 is at no charge. To learn more, visit www.fastcase.com.

Three programs initiated by the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division provide significant resources to lawyers of all ages. If you plan to start up or manage a law practice, all the tools a lawyer would need are now online at Start My Florida Law Firm. Lawyers Advising Lawyers is a great tool for solo practitioners who need to get advice from another attorney about an unfamiliar area of the law or procedure without having to travel beyond their own computer. This “virtual hallway” allows a lawyer in need of answers to connect with a more experienced lawyer. Last, but not least, the YLD’s legal accelerator features easily searchable mentoring videos on every imaginable subject with plain and practical advice. The site is available from the landing page of your member portal on the Bar website. Launched in January, this site contains nearly 1,000 mentoring videos. If you’re a young lawyer in need of mentoring advice, this is an ideal tool for you.

Hot off the presses, the Bar Board of Governors is moving forward with a pilot of its proposed trust accounting program, which will test a completely automated system for lawyers to be fully compliant with the rules regulating our trust accounts so long as they follow the procedures outlined in the pilot participation agreement. It will be a win/win/win! And it will be free. The program will provide a solution to Bar members that, as long as they enter accurate information when making deposits or withdrawals, ensures compliance with all Bar trust accounting regulations. The Bar is working on a safe-harbor rule that will provide that lawyers using this system will not be subject to discipline if they make honest mistakes. By aggregating trust account funds, we will leverage better interest rates on trust funds, which will yield significantly more IOTA income to The Florida Bar Foundation.

These are just a few of the many member benefits available to lawyers free or substantially discounted — on demand at your fingertips. But none of these benefits will help if you are not aware of them. Please check them out and spread the word. For more information on your Bar member benefits, visit www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits.

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[Revised: 02-26-2018]