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Bar leadership wants the membership to weigh in on the recommendations of the Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services

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Michael Tanner

Mike Tanner

As the Board of Governors prepares to respond to the recommendations made by the Supreme Court’s Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services, it wants to know what Florida lawyers think.

The court created the special committee in 2019 to study “whether and how the rules governing the practice of law in Florida may be revised to improve the delivery of legal services to Florida’s consumers and to assure Florida lawyers play a proper and prominent role in the provision of these services.”

In June, the special committee submitted its final report to the court and its  recommendations include further study on creating a legal lab to test innovative ways of delivering legal services, allowing non-lawyer employees of law firms to have minority ownership interest in those firms, permitting lawyers to split fees with online companies that provide legal services, and allowing Florida Registered Paralegals to perform more services in a law office under lawyer supervision.

“This was a court project, not one directed by The Florida Bar, and the Board of Governors did not participate in the study,” Bar President Mike Tanner said. “However, the Board of Governors has established a process by which it will examine the recommendations of the report and submit comments on those recommendations to the court.”

To obtain input and reactions from Bar members, Tanner said the Bar has set up a special email address — [email protected] —which is also posted on the special committee’s webpage where members may provide written comments.

The Board of Governors’ review process will also include two virtual board meetings — scheduled for September 8 and October 26 — where Vero Beach attorney John Stewart, chair of the special committee, and other committee members will explain their recommendations.

Tanner said that the Board of Governors, as representatives of all of Florida’s lawyers,  has a duty to thoughtfully study and discuss the special committee’s recommendations, vote as a board on its responses/comments to those recommendations, and communicate those responses and comments to the Supreme Court “so that it will have the benefit of our input when it takes up the recommendations.”

Tanner met with Chief Justice Charles Canady shortly after the report was released and the court has agreed to wait to act on the special committee’s report until after the board gives its input, most likely in  November.

The Board of Governors has also reached out to the leadership of each of the sections of The Florida Bar to solicit section comments on the special committee’s recommendations. The sections, and any other groups who wish to comment on the recommendations, may submit their comments in writing to the Board by October 29.