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Florida Bar activates lawyer disciplinary hotline due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole

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Florida Bar sealIn the wake of Hurricanes Nicole and Ian, The Florida Bar activated a new Disciplinary Hotline (833-979-8225) for Floridians to report allegations of professional misconduct and unlawful solicitation by lawyers.

Bar rules prohibit the solicitation — in person, by phone, via cold call, or through a third party — of a client who is not a family member or with whom the lawyer does not have a prior professional relationship.

Florida Bar Rule 4-7.18 (a) (Solicitation) states that a lawyer may not “solicit in person or permit employees or agents of the lawyer to solicit in person on the lawyer’s behalf, professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain.”

Another section (b) addresses written solicitation.

Attorneys may not send direct mail solicitation to prospective clients within 30 days of an accident, and the mailing must meet several conditions, including stating where the attorney got the recipient’s name, be marked as an advertisement, and begin by advising the recipient to ignore the letter if he or she has already retained another lawyer.

As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar is charged with enforcing Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for over 110,000 lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. In that role, the Bar and its Division of Lawyer Regulation administer the statewide disciplinary system, accepting complaints against attorneys and actively investigating all legitimate allegations of fraud and misconduct, including those recently made following Hurricane Ian. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of attorney discipline sanctions.

Each year, The Florida Bar opens approximately 3,400 files for investigation, with 200-300 resulting in disciplinary action.

The Florida Bar maintains rigorous procedures for regulating attorney conduct, as established by the Florida Supreme Court, including preventing wrongdoing through proactive education and training, pursuing lawyer sanctions, and enforcing disciplinary actions. The Florida Bar also manages the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program, which staffs a toll-free hotline to resolve client-lawyer issues.

Read The Florida Bar’s Attorney Discipline guidelines for more information about the investigation and enforcement process.

If you have evidence of lawyer misconduct, call the Disciplinary Hotline at 833-979-8225.

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