Supreme Court changes slew of Florida bar rules
Whether it’s pointing out that attorneys who don’t file trust account certificates aren’t allowed to practice, authorizing payment for inventory attorneys, or encouraging lawyers to seek medical for chemical dependency and mental health issues, the Florida Supreme Court on March 3 amended 31 existing bar rules and passed a new one involving the extinction of certification areas.
“Having considered the Law Society’s motion, the proposed amendments, and the comments filed, we hereby adopt the Law Society’s proposed amendments to the Rules Governing the Law Society of Florida, with minor modifications,” the court said unanimously. . In Re: Florida Bar Rule Amendments – Biennial Petitioncase no. SC20-1467.
The court added a new subsection (g) to Rule 1-3.6 (Delinquent Members) to clarify that a Florida attorney who does not file their annual trust account certificate required in Chapter 5 will be deemed delinquent and ineligible to the practice of law.
The court also made several changes to Rule 1-3.8 (Right to Inventory). Almost all members of the Florida Bar are required to appoint an inventory attorney to end the practices of attorneys who die, disappear, or are otherwise unable to practice law, but the work is often time-consuming and volunteers have been difficult to find.
To facilitate the search for inventory attorneys, the court adopted new subsection (e) (Payment of inventory attorney) to rule 1-3.8 to provide that the bar may pay to a lawyer responsible for the inventory of “reasonable” fees for his services.
Prior to this change, inventory attorneys were only eligible for out-of-pocket reimbursement.
The title of subsection (b) is also changed to “Maintenance of Confidentiality”, and the subsection is amended to provide that an inventory attorney “may apply for an order of protection in the competent court or take any other action necessary to protect the subject’s confidential information. lawyer’s clients. Subsection (c) (Status and Purpose of the Inventory Attorney) has been amended to clarify that an inventory attorney does not represent the attorney whose records are being inventoried or the clients of this lawyer. Subsection (d) (Rules of Procedure) is deleted in its entirety and the remaining subsections are renamed accordingly.
The court also amended subsection (g) (Motions for Dissolution) of Rule 3-5.2 (Emergency Suspension and Provisional Probation or Provisional Placement on the Inactive List for Incapacity Unrelated to Misconduct) to prevent the filing of a motion to dissolve or vary an emergency stay where the bar has already demonstrated at a hearing or trial that it is likely to prevail on the merits of the violations of the rules under -lying.
Subsection (a) (Authorization and Enforcement) of Rule 3-6.1 (Generally) is amended to include the phrase “lawyers listed on the inactive list due to incapacity”, making it clear that a listed lawyer on the inactive roster due to incapacity and is employed by a law firm is subject to the same restrictions as a disbarred or suspended lawyer.
Subsection (j) (Chemical Dependence and Psychological Treatment) of Rule 3-7.1 (Confidentiality) is amended to add judges and justices of the peace to the category of those whose voluntary treatment for chemical dependence or psychological problems is deemed confidential. The court said the change was intended to encourage members of the Florida judiciary to seek treatment if needed for chemical addiction and mental health issues.
Amendments to the Advertising Rules add a new subsection (b)(12) to Rule 4-7.13 to prohibit lawyers from stating or implying that another lawyer is part of or associated with the law firm in advertising where this is not true, including information that deceptively causes a consumer to contact the advertising lawyer when the consumer intends to contact another lawyer (for example, by clicking on a phone number or email address on a mobile device – also known as the “Google AdWords” issue). The corresponding new comment provides explanations and examples of the types of advertisements prohibited by the new subsection (b)(12), such as using “another lawyer or law firm’s name as a term Internet search engine that triggers the display of an advertisement that does not clearly state that the advertisement is for a lawyer or law firm that is not the lawyer or law firm used as the term of research.
A new comment titled “Authorized Contact” is also added to Rule 4-7.18 (Direct Contact with Prospective Clients) explaining that a lawyer may initiate the mutual exchange of contact information at business-related events. and on company-related social media platforms. if the lawyer does not initiate any discussion of specific legal issues. The comment also clarifies that a lawyer who knows that a person has a specific legal problem cannot go to a specific event to initiate such an exchange and that “[a]An accident scene, an injured person’s hospital room, or a doctor’s office are not business or professional conferences or meetings. »
New Rule 6-3.14 (Termination of Areas of Certification) provides that the Board of Legal Education and Specialization may request the court to close an area of certification to any new applicant if a bar certification committee has not received application for initial certification for five consecutive years.
Rule 10-2.1 (General) is amended to place definition terms in quotation marks and to reorganize the definitions alphabetically. The phrase “or has been removed” is added to the definition in new subclause (g) (non-lawyer or non-lawyer) to reflect disciplinary removal as a form of disbarment.
Subsection (c)(2) (As with all legal forms) of Rule 10-2.2 (Form Completion by Non-Lawyer) is amended to align the definition of paralegal with the definition of the term in the Rule 10-2.1. The court amended the Law Society’s proposal to refer to the newly redesignated definition of paralegal in subdivision (h) of rule 10-2.1.
And because there is no formal certification for mediators and arbitrators of Law Society cases, the court replaced the word “certification” in subsection (a) (Applications) of Law Society Rule 14 -3.1 (Application required) by the word “approval”. For consistency, the court made the same change to the title of subchapter 14-3, so that the title now reads “Approval of Program Mediators and Arbitrators.”
Here are other changes to the rules adopted by the court:
• Rule 1-3.2 – revoked and struck off were added to the list of those who are not members in good standing.
• Rule 4-1.5(f)(1) – adds that the “final statement” (written statement of fees and expenses at the end of a contingency fee case) must include “a breakdown of costs, each lawyer or law firm participating in the levy, and third party installments to be paid from collection.
• Rule 4-1.14 – the rule is rewritten to replace the disabled customer with an impaired customer and numerous other changes more closely aligned with the ABA model rule, and to add a new provision on confidential information, including understood that the lawyer is implicitly authorized to disclose information to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the client.
• Rule 4-5.8 – commentary amended regarding outgoing lawyer consulting firm regarding disposition of records.
• Rule 4-6.1 – mandatory reporting requirements for ambitious pro bono services are simplified.
• Rule 5-1.2(d)(5) – adds that the Law Society will send written notice to the Law Society’s last official address of each member who has not completed the certificate of trust accounting by August 15 and that members will be in default if the trust account certificate is not filed by September 30. The trust account certificate requirement and the delinquency are not new, but the additions procedurally clarify how the delinquency will be handled by the Law Society.
• Rule 7-1.3 – adds that Client Security Fund staff will close claims when the claimant dies before a committee recommendation is made.
• Rule 7-2.3 – adds comment regarding contact between Client Security Fund staff and applicants and processes in the event of an applicant’s death.
• Rule 7-2.5 – adds new subsection (e)(2) regarding helpful services and new subsection (g) on refusing requests where the applicant has acted in bad faith.
• Rule 10-6.3(a) – adds instances where restitution is recommended to instances where UPL Circuit Committees must report disposition to Bar Counsel, that votes may be taken by electronic means and that the UPL Standing Committee shall review all cases where restitution is recommended by the circuit committee.
• Rule 20-5.1 – “or has been revoked” has been added to indicate that attorneys who have had a disciplinary revocation cannot be registered as registered paralegals in Florida.
• Rule 21-3.1 – continuing education hours for Florida licensed paralegals increased from 10 to 11 per year, including 1 technology hour each year to reflect CLE for attorneys.
The rule changes come into effect on May 2.