A message from The Florida Bar Board of Governors
Dear Fellow Florida Bar Members:
We hope that you, your family and your colleagues are all faring as well as possible during these trying times and that you are staying healthy and safe. We understand the financial pressures that this pandemic is putting on our member attorneys and that we are all now experiencing unprecedented challenges. The Florida Bar wants you to know it is here to assist you in any way possible. As we all adjust to these challenging circumstances, The Florida Bar has been working hard to provide valuable resources for members, and to communicate the latest legal and court news.
We are writing to you today to ensure that you are aware of the many free resources and programs available to Florida Bar members as we and our clients confront the many adversities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Free Resources at LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar
LegalFuel is offering a new series of free CLE webinars on topics specifically related to financial assistance and practicing during the pandemic. Recent webinar topics have included “Navigating the CARES Act,” incorporating information about the expanded EIDL loan, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) including the SBA guidance issued about the PPP Program’s logistics, unemployment, stimulus checks, the Retention Tax Credit, the Families First Act; “Keep Calm and Lawyer On – Top Tools and Resources for Remote Work,” incorporating tools such as virtual receptionists, online client payments, cloud based practice management software, outsourcing, and online marketing to help you continue your practice from anywhere; and more.
Future planned programs include:
- Unemployment Claims and Benefits: 10 Things You Need to Know | April 28, 2020 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans – A Banker’s Perspective | April 30, 2020 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Member Benefits providers are offering free trials or initial services and free CLEs, including Fastcase, CLIO, Rocket Matter, TrustBooks, telehealth services, forms and tools, and others all listed here with the description of each special offer. The full list of member benefits is on the website at www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits.
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division has transformed its popular technology roadshows series into “The Adaptable Attorney” webinars to help members navigate the constantly evolving technology integral to the practice of law, especially now that so many lawyers are adapting to working from home and productivity is more important than ever. These four are now available for free CLE: Understanding and Using Digital Signatures, How to Run a Successful Zoom Meeting, Selecting the Right Remote Meeting and Collaboration Tools, and Working from Home. This Florida Bar News article has more information.
The Bar’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage at floridabar.org/covid19 is being constantly updated to provide you with Florida Supreme Court orders immediately after they are issued, links to state and federal courts, Florida Bar announcements, member resources and consumer assistance. This information is also being shared online in Florida Bar News articles and on social media. We will continue to provide information to you regarding Member Benefits and government programs that can assist your law firm and staff in managing the financial, logistical, and emotional challenges the coronavirus has caused.
You can also provide pro bono civil legal assistance to low income individuals affected by the pandemic, who need help with landlord/tenant, unemployment and debt matters and bankruptcy. Florida Free Legal Answers is an online legal clinic where Floridians below the 400% federal poverty level may post up to five questions for attorney volunteers to answer. Details and registration for volunteers can be found at: florida.freelegalanswers.org.
Mental Health and Wellness Resources
The Bar is prioritizing the support of your mental health and wellness with resources that will soon include a 24/7 confidential helpline and referral to licensed mental-health professionals for up to three free remote sessions. Additional mental health and wellness resources are available at: floridabar.org/member/healthandwellnesscenter, including a coping with COVID-19 page with many tools to enhance your well-being. Watch for upcoming announcements regarding new expanded resources.
The Young Lawyers Division will be continuing its annual Health and Wellness Month activities in May with a special focus on providing a variety of resources to improve mental, physical, family, and social health during COVID-19. This will include highlighting what different lawyers and affiliates have done to continue their commitment to health and wellness while still complying with social distancing guidelines. Visit https://flayld.org/stigmafreeyld-campaign/ for additional online tools.
Pandemic Member Resources
Use links to assistance and recovery programs in this section, as well as to materials to help you in your practice and personally. There is an FAQ on ethics concerns during the pandemic, and the Ethics Hotline is taking calls. Links are also set to the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Treasury COVID-19 pages, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal and state agencies making loans, grants and other financial resources available to employers and individuals.
CLE Courses and Reporting
Due to the pandemic, CLE reporting deadlines for February, March, April, May, June and July 2020 have been extended to a new reporting deadline of August 31, 2020. This includes the Basic Skills Course Requirement. The 24/7 OnDemand CLE catalog is active; and, more than 90 free CLEs are available through LegalFuel offering general, ethics, mental illness awareness, technology, professionalism and certification credits. Florida Bar Sections also continue to provide practice area courses through audio and video webcasts.
Assistance with 2020-21 Fees
By now you should have received an email from The Florida Bar regarding the 2020-21 annual fees. We understand the extreme financial pressure that you are currently under and the Bar stands ready to assist members who may need additional help regarding the payment of fees this year.
If you expect that you will be unable to pay your fees before the July 1 due date, the Bar is offering various ways to assist you during the crisis. You may elect to pay your 2020-21 fees in three (3) installments that will extend the final payment to February 1, 2021. The first payment must be made prior to August 15, 2020. The installment plan can be elected online in the portal. In addition, the Bar also has other options available which will be reviewed on an individual basis due to need. Please call 850-561-5831 and press 3 to discuss installment or other payment options.
If you are currently in a position to pay your 2020-21 Florida Bar annual membership fees, please log in to the MyFloridaBar Member Portal or to pay by phone, call 850-561-5831 and press 3. If your law firm wants to make a single payment for multiple members, please press 3.
You can also print your statement to mail with the payment, or expect to receive your statement by postal service in early summer if you have not yet paid electronically. For help accessing your MyFloridaBar account, or if you have questions regarding your membership status or payment options, please contact the Bar’s Membership Department by email at: [email protected] or by calling 850-561-5831 and press 3.
The Florida Bar will continue to explore ways to help you, our members, as the COVID-19 crisis persists with particular focus on practical support to help you our members in your daily lives and practices. We are all in this together; and, together we can recover and restore our legal system and law practices to normal operations as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns or if you have any other ideas on the way the Bar can assist you.
Watch an interview with President John Stewart discussing important Florida Bar matters with Journal & News Editor Mark Killian.