Report from The Florida Bar Board of Governors
The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on December 14, 2018, in Naples. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
The Board of Governors unanimously approved an ethics advisory opinion, Proposed Advisory Opinion 18-1, regarding for-profit qualifying providers, which includes lawyer referral services, and related payment methods. The opinion prohibits qualifying providers from being paid in a manner that constitutes an impermissible division of fees with a non-lawyer. Under the new rule, a qualifying provider is, “any person, group, or persons, associations, organizations or entities that receive any benefit or consideration, monetary or otherwise, for the direct or indirect referral of respective clients to the lawyers or law firm.” The proposed opinion also cites the comment to Rule 4-7.22, “Qualifying Provider Rule,” that became effective in April.
A new Florida Bar member benefits program was approved and will soon be available: TimeSolv, a web-based legal billing, timekeeping and project management solution for law firms. When the agreements have been finalized, these new programs will be listed with the more than 60 other discounted and free Florida Bar member benefits at www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits.
Thirteen legislative positions for The Florida Bar for 2018-20, previously sunset, were approvedincluding support for adequate funding of the state courts system, state attorneys’ offices, public defenders’ offices, court-appointed counsel, and the offices of the clerks of the circuit and county courts performing court-related functions. The legislative position of the Young Lawyers Division opposing term limits for judges was approved. These positions and current section and committee positions are posted at: www.floridabar.org/legislativeactivity. The 2019 Florida Legislature convenes on March 5.
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics reported that it has approved a proposal that would prohibit any advertisements from stating or implying that a lawyer is affiliated with the advertising lawyer or law firm or that misleads a person searching for a particular lawyer or law firm, or for information regarding a particular lawyer or law firm, to unknowingly contact a different lawyer or law firm. This proposal could be before the Board on first reading at the February meeting.
The Board of Governors approved the following appointments:
- Judicial Qualifications Commission, to serve six-year terms commencing January 1, 2019: Mayanne Downs, Orlando, and William J. “Bill” Schifino, Jr., Tampa.
- Florida Rural Legal Services Board of Directors, to serve a 3-year term, commencing January 1, 2019: Ashley Minton, Ft. Pierce.
- Florida Realtor-Attorney Joint Committee, to serve 2-year terms, commencing January 1, 2019: John Redding, Tampa; Thomas Wright, Marathon; S. Brian Bull, Palm Beach Gardens; and, Andrew Fisher, Orlando.
The Board is encouraging Bar members to apply to serve on a Bar committee during the 2019-20 term of President-elect John M. Stewart. The committee preference forms are available at floridabar.org and are due no later than January 15, 2019. President-elect Stewart will make about 500 appointments to more than 70 committees and he wants to make sure he has a diverse group of lawyers on each committee. Florida Bar committees, descriptions and current members can be found on the Bar’s website.
Miami attorney Dori Foster-Morales won election without opposition as president-elect designate of The Florida Bar after election qualifying closed on Dec. 17. She will be sworn in as president-elect in June 2019 when John M. Stewart of Vero Beach becomes president. Eighteen incumbent members of The Florida Bar Board of Governors were re-elected to additional two-year terms without opposition and three unopposed candidates will serve as new board members in circuits 11, 13 and 20 circuits. One seat in the 11th Circuit has a contested election; ballots will be emailed or mailed to eligible voters by March 1 and votes must be received by midnight March 21. New terms will begin on June 28.