The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on May 20, 2016. The major actions of the Board and the reports received included:
A recommendation to the Supreme Court was approved to change rules 11-1.3 and 11-1.9 governing certified legal interns (CLIs) to allow them to begin work after applying to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners as a CLI registrant, being certified by their law dean and passing a Level 2 criminal background check, which can take one to two weeks. Currently, CLIs must pass a full Florida Board of Bar Examiners background check, which can take three to four months if there are no problems and up to six to eight months if not routine. Law deans say the timeframe for the full check discourages students from becoming CLIs with state attorneys, public defenders, and legal aid agencies. These proposed changes will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court in October.
Changes to a Bar rule that allow lawyers who are not board certified to say in advertising that they are experts or specialize in an area of law were approved as required by a federal judge’s ruling invalidating that rule last year. The proposed changes require that lawyers who claim they are experts or specialists be able to objectively verify experience that is reasonably comparable to experience required of a board certified lawyer. Additionally, if the lawyer’s practice area is an area or sub-area where board certification is currently available, the ad must have a disclaimer that the lawyer is not certified. These proposed changes will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court in October.
An informational report on proposed amendments to rule 4-7.22 regarding lawyer referral services, lawyer directories, and other entities that seek to link lawyers and potential clients was presented. The proposed amendments, which would not apply to bar-sponsored nonprofit lawyer referral services, identify any such entities as “qualifying providers” and focus on preventing fee splitting and misleading, false or deceptive advertising. An overview, a Q&A, a comparison chart, the procedural history and other details are posted at www.floridabar.org/proposedlrsamend. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and if received by June 30, they will be provided to the Board of Governors for its July 29 meeting when the vote will be taken. If approved, the amendments will be submitted to the Supreme Court by Aug.15.
CosmoLex, law practice management software that includes managing cloud operations, was approved as a member benefit. For all current member benefits including discounts on products and services, visit www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits. All technology and practice-related member benefits, along with many resources, are also listed on The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute webpage at www.floridabar.org/pri.
A new certification area for International Litigation and Arbitration, which will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court in October, and a new substantive law committee on Government Advocacy and Public Policy were approved. All current Bar committees are listed on the website. More information on the new certification and the new committee will be published in upcoming issues of The Florida Bar News.
The Florida Courts Technology Commission and the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers gave a demonstration of the new statewide system to give uniform access to court records regardless of where the records are located. Plans are for the entire system to be in place by the end of the year. Lawyers and others will be able to access records through a single source, records from multiple counties will be available at the same time, and records will have a uniform appearance so lawyers will not have to adapt to a different system each time they look for records in a different county.
A rule amendment to allow lawyers to keep IOTA trust accounts in credit unions is still under consideration by the Board Disciplinary Procedures Committee. The Florida Bankers Association has objected to the amendment, while credit unions note that a number of other states allow IOTA accounts to be kept in credit unions. Current rules regulating trust accounts are posted here.
Protect your computer from malware! The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute provides a video, tips and a link to a website with additional information: www.floridabar.org/PRI
Register today for The Florida Bar Annual Convention, June 15-18 at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria, Orlando, Florida — the ultimate environment to network with colleagues, friends and members of the judiciary, attend CLE seminars and luncheons with prominent speakers, visit the lawyers marketplace, enjoy special events and much more!
Pay annual fees online: Florida Bar members may now pay 2016-17 fees, join sections and report pro bono hours online by logging in at www.floridabar.org. The Florida Bar will not send email messages with invoices – any such message should be deleted. Information on fees is available in the May 15 Florida Bar News.