TROPICAL STORM NICOLE
For court closures, please check the Florida Supreme Court Emergency page. The Florida Bar Board of Governors meeting planned for Sept. 30 as an in-person meeting was rescheduled to Oct. 24 as a virtual meeting.
Resources for Florida Bar Members
Hurricane Ian Classifieds: Florida Bar members have been reaching out wanting to help attorneys and law firms impacted by Hurricane Ian. To quickly connect these members, we have created a Hurricane Ian section of The Florida Bar News’ Classified Ads for temporary office space or other resources. If you would like assist attorneys impacted by Hurricane Ian, please email the offered resources and contact information to [email protected]. To access the resource, visit floridabar.org/classified-ads/ and click on the “Hurricane Ian Help” category.
CLE Reporting Extension: The Florida Bar Board of Governors Executive Committee is extending the fee delinquency deadline by two weeks from October 1 to October 14, 2022, and extending the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Basic Skills Course Requirement (BSCR) Phase I and Phase II reporting deadlines for Bar members, with a CLE or BSCR cycle ending September 30, 2022, to October 31, 2022. This one-month extension to complete and report CLE only impacts cycles ending September 30, 2022. Florida Registered Paralegals (FRPs) are included in the fee delinquency and CLE reporting extensions.
Member Benefits: 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.
- Fastcase has posted a Hurricane Ian page with their available services.
- Clio has created a disaster page with resources for lawyers and law firms.
The Florida Office of State Courts Administrator has posted information regarding Hurricane Ian.
LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar has disaster planning information and resources for Bar members collected on one page including links to The American Bar Association disaster response, preparedness, and recovery advice; a LexisNexis publication “Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans;” an after disaster strikes checklist; as well as disaster recovery services provided by the Florida Small Business Development Council. Advisers can assist members by phone during regular business hours, 866-730-2020, via live chat at LegalFuel.com, or email. The Florida Bar Tech Helpline is available provide remote computer, software, and related technology support to members of Bar.
Florida Lawyers Helpline at 1-833-351-9355 is a free, confidential 24/7 lawyers helpline available for Florida Bar members to call and speak to mental health professionals. Calls to 1-833-351-9355 are unlimited.
The Florida Bar Tech Helpline is a free resource for Bar members who need assistance with most of the typical software, applications, services, and hardware used in the practice of law.
Disaster Relief Hotline: The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and Federal Emergency Management Agency, is working to activate the Disaster Relief Hotline, 1-866-550-2929, to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford representation.
Florida Free Legal Answers: an online advice clinic to match low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions. Due to Hurricane Ian, the ABA has approved a temporary increase of the qualifying cap so that Floridians under the 400% of the Federal Poverty Level can access the site and post questions relating to the hurricane. Find out more here.
Florida Rural Legal Services has launched a Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief page with information about SNAP benefits, disaster unemployment, FEMA resources and more.
Legal Aid Assistance: The Florida Bar Foundation created the Florida Hurricane Legal Aid Fund for civil legal assistance for Floridians affected by a hurricane that makes landfall in Florida.
Mass Disaster Consumer Pamphlet: The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlet for victims of mass disasters provides guidance for consumers on who to contact for legal assistance and how to protect their legal rights (En español aquí). The Bar also has pamphlets on homeowners’ insurance and rights and duties of tenants and landlords that could offer important information to people affected by the storm.
Florida Department of Financial Services: The MyFloridaCFO website is posting public service announcements, advisories and consumer resources. Check their website for the latest consumer information.
Insurance-related Issues: The Florida Division of Consumer Services is assisting insurance consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Their insurance experts can answer the many insurance-related questions which arise following a storm. You can call their toll-free insurance consumer helpline at: 1-877-693-5236, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, EST or file a complaint online by visiting their Get Insurance Help homepage.
Legal complaints: If you feel you have been unfairly treated by a lawyer, contact The Florida Bar’s Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) at 866-352-0707. The Florida Bar is responsible for prosecuting unethical lawyers for sanctions to be imposed by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Potential Hurricane-related scams: The Florida Attorney General’s office has provided information on how to detect and avoid scams after a storm.
Price gouging: State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, 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. Here is a page with frequently asked questions about price gouging.
Unlawful solicitations: Florida citizens should use caution and good judgment in any emergency, particularly when dealing with representatives of insurance companies or direct contact from lawyers. Any contact by a lawyer or a lawyer’s representative in person or by telephone asking to handle a specific case is a direct violation of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary rules, unless the injured party has requested contact from the lawyer. Florida Bar rules also prohibit lawyers from writing or emailing within 30 days of an accident or disaster unless they have been specifically asked to provide information. To report an unlawful contact, call The Florida Bar at 866-352-0707.
Unlicensed practice of law: Only a lawyer can give legal advice and provide legal services. If you believe that an individual or business has engaged in the unlicensed practice of law, call The Florida Bar at 850-561-5840.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): People who have sustained property damage as a result of the severe storms and flooding are urged to register with FEMA, as they may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
After a storm, FEMA may open Disaster Recovery Centers to assist people and businesses in the recovery process. Register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. A FEMA app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices. Learn how to file your claim.
The Florida Department of Children and Families has opened a new Family Resource Support Center in Fort Myers. Hope Navigators and counseling resources are on site and ready to help individuals and families in need. For a list of locations, hours and additional information, please visit: . myflfamilies.com/frsc
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for eligible applicants. SBA helps businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. For more information, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or 800-877-8339 (TTY), send an email, or visit the SBA’s website.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist eligible homeowners with temporary roof repairs. The Operation Blue Roof program will begin on Oct. 3 to provide a temporary blue covering with fiber-reinforced sheeting to help reduce further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made. Operation Blue Roof is a free service to homeowners. The counties that have been identified are Charlotte and Lee. The initial sign up period is set for 21 days and will end on Oct. 23.
Florida Bar members have been reaching out with offers of office space and legal support services for attorneys and law firms impacted by Hurricane Ian. To quickly connect these members, we now have Hurricane Ian section of The Florida Bar News’ Classified Ads for temporary office space or other resources. If you would like assist attorneys impacted by Hurricane Ian, email the offered resources and contact information to [email protected].
FEMA/YLD Disaster Hotline: The Florida Bar YLD, in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section and FEMA, is working to activate the Disaster Relief Hotline. All Florida Bar members eligible to practice may volunteer to provide basic civil legal services for people who cannot otherwise afford legal representation in non-fee generating cases. After a hurricane hits, many people need simple advice about how to get their life back in order. Sign up to volunteer to answer the questions of hurricane victims on a pro bono basis.
Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. Sign up to to quickly and easily answer questions from the public. It is easy to do, takes only a couple of minutes and can mean so much to those in need.
Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation — both in hurricane recovery and year-round. You can view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate an interest in any of them; you then will be contacted by the posting organization with more information.
Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers have created a GoFundme account for donations to support Clerks and their staff impacted, and their long road to recovery.
National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center welcomes all advocates and volunteers from nonprofit legal aid organizations, bar associations, pro bono counsel from law firms and corporations, law school students and faculty, and allied nonprofits working on disaster legal aid. Visit the website to sign up. The website has links to a multitude of disaster relief manuals and training tools.
Helpful Government Links
Florida Attorney General’s Office: Information on price gouging and other consumer protection issues.
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation: Provides useful information and links, including hurricane claims data information and consumer alerts.
Florida Governor’s Office: Announcements on any state of Florida disaster response.