What Every Florida Attorney Should Know About Chapter 9 Legal Services Plans
Chapter 9 Legal Services Plans are arrangements, in compliance with Chapter 9 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, whereby a Sponsor contracts directly with a Managing Attorney for the provision of legal services to its members.
Benefits of Being a Managing Attorney Under Chapter 9
- Built-in client base composed of members of the sponsor eligible to receive legal services under a Chapter 9 Plan (being “plan participants”);
- Ability to tailor the types and kinds of legal services rendered to plan participants based on a managing attorney’s present law practice;
- Potential for receipt by the managing attorney of recurring monthly “retainer” income from plan participants depending upon the economic model utilized in the establishment of the Chapter 9 Plan;
- Potential for the managing attorney to generate income in addition to the income derived from a Chapter 9 Plan upon the following:
- Provision of legal services to plan participants on legal matters not covered by and under the Chapter 9 Plan at the managing attorney’s normal and customary fees;
- Increase in the built-in Chapter 9 Plan client base upon a plan participant referring a member of the sponsor eligible to receive legal services under the Chapter 9 Plan to so join the plan;
- Increase in private client base upon a plan participant referring a non-member of the sponsor for services rendered at the managing attorney’s normal and customary fees.
Requirements for Establishing a Chapter 9 Legal Services Plan
RULE 9-2.1. REQUIREMENTS FOR ESTABLISHING A PLAN
A managing attorney shall not be permitted to operate a plan in this state without first obtaining approval by the board of governors to establish such plan. A managing attorney seeking to obtain board approval of a plan shall file with the committee a plan application pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.
RULE 9-2.2. FORM AND CONTENT OF PLAN APPLICATION
A plan application shall consist of the following:
- Assurances by the Managing Attorney to The Bar.
- Agreement by and between Managing Attorney and Sponsor.
- Agreement by and between Managing Attorney and Plan Attorney.
- Other Documents.
- Application Fee.
Please refer to Chapter 9 for more detail.
Permissible Activities of Managing Attorneys
Rule 9-2.1 Managing Attorney Requirements
Managing attorneys and their employees or agents may:
- Directly contact representatives or fiduciaries of groups for the purpose of informing them of the availability of a plan offered by the managing attorney;
- Upon board approval of a plan, provide any written form of communication to members of the sponsor for the purpose of informing them of the availability of said plan and inviting them to become plan participants therein but only in accordance with the advertising and solicitation provisions of these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; and
- Do any and all things necessary and proper in order to fully and completely administer the plan. Examples of permissible administrative activities shall include, but not be limited to, the compilation of the following:
- Types of legal services performed;
- Time expended per legal matter;
- Number of plan participants receiving legal services under the plan; and
- The amount and method of payment of the fees paid to the plan attorney(s).
Notwithstanding any other provision herein to the contrary, the managing attorney is expressly prohibited from contracting with any third party of whatsoever type or kind to perform any administrative activities regarding the plan whatsoever.
The material represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this posting may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your legal situation.