Committees of The Florida Bar.
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which meets monthly, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee's Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation (updated June 2002). The handbook is designed to provide a quick reference to filing and substantive guidelines through various checklists and examples, as well as more in-depth discussions of particular types of advertising regulations and recurring situations. The handbook is reviewed and updated by Bar staff with the input of the committee to provide an excellent up-to-date guide to Florida's lawyer advertising regulations. It also includes the latest changes to the advertising rules, set forth in the Supreme Court's Rules Regulating The Florida Bar-Amendments, 820 So. 2d 210 (Fla. 2002), and Amendments to Rules Regulating The Florida Bar-Advertising Rules, 762 So. 2d 392 (Fla. 1999).
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a quarterly column in The Florida Bar News, entitled "Advertising Update." The column summarizes highlights of the committee's decisions at its monthly meetings and the Board of Governors' decisions regarding advertising issues. The committee's goal is to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in complying with the attorney advertising rules.
The committee has been active in assisting other Bar committees this year. Members of the Standing Committee on Advertising are working with the Professional Ethics Committee as participants in subcommittees dealing with issues affecting both legal ethics and lawyer advertising. The committee made recommendations to expand the category of exempt information in advertisements, which were adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida in Rules Regulating The Florida Bar-Amendments, 820 So. 2d 210 (Fla. 2002). The committee has recommended several changes to clarify the attorney advertising rules and to address restrictions on television and radio advertisements that were approved by the Board of Governors to be filed with the Supreme Court of Florida this year. The committee worked with the Bar's Disciplinary Procedures Committee to draft Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions in Advertising and Solicitation Rule Violations, which were adopted by the Board of Governors in October 2002. The committee has also worked with the Bar's Long Range Planning Committee regarding planning for lawyer advertising issues in future years. The committee has served in an advisory capacity to the new statewide grievance committee on lawyer advertising, assisting the members of the new grievance committee in understanding the advertising rules and the advertising review process.
By far the most time-consuming task of the committee is reviewing advertisements filed by Bar members to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if the staff's interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
As in previous years, the committee has taken an active role in ensuring that lawyer advertising in Florida is filed with The Florida Bar and properly reviewed. An ongoing compliance program, headed by staff of the committee, reviews Yellow Pages and newspaper advertisements throughout the state to determine whether nonexempt advertisements have been filed and reviewed. Lawyers who have not filed their advertisements (and whose advertisements are not exempt from filing under the advertising rules) are requested to file their ads and to pay a $250 late filing fee approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1999.
The committee is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I would like to thank committee members, Michael Seminario, Adrienne Katz, John Remsen, Kimberly Sands, John Bales, and Kimberly Doyle for their tremendous contributions.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, William H. "Dude" Phelan, Jr., who has been an active participant in our work this year, Legal Division Director John Anthony Boggs, and our hardworking staff headed by ethics counsel Elizabeth Tarbert. Without the participation and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
SHANE MUNOZ, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
There are currently 57 attorneys certified in the area of admiralty and maritime law. This year, three applicants were approved to sit for the admiralty and maritime law certification examination on March 7 in Tampa.
During the past year, the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee met in person on two occasions and had three conference calls. These meetings were to review and approve the applications and develop the examination.
The committee also reviewed admiralty and maritime law certification credit requests throughout the year. Over the past several years, the committee has received numerous requests for certification credits for papers written, courses given, and not previously approved courses attended. This year the committee focused on becoming more selective about which courses are approved for certification credit. To be considered for admiralty and maritime law certification credit, all requests must be submitted with the appropriate application form and must show coverage of substantive maritime issues supported by quality written materials. These include the course brochure including hours devoted to each topic, carefully prepared outlines and/or handouts, and any other books or materials that may accompany the course. Without this information, the committee cannot determine to what extent the course was beneficial to an experienced admiralty and maritime lawyer, and certification will probably not be given. If you are interested in becoming board certified in admiralty and maritime law, please contact The Florida Bar legal specialization and education department. The deadline to apply for the 2004 examination is August 31, 2003.
ALLEN K. VON SPIEGELFELD, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification
The Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee presented proposed amendments to the certification standards at the January BLSE meeting in Miami. The proposed amendments, which unanimously were approved both by the ATTR Certification Committee and the BLSE, both improve and modify existing standards as well as provide for a one-time window of opportunity for experienced practitioners to apply for certification without examination (but subject to all other standards). In particular, proposed additions to Rule 6-22.1 will provide better notice about the committee's expectations with regard to the high level of knowledge, experience, judgment, and professionalism applicants are expected to possess. Providing ample notice of these important factors will best guide the exercise of discretion in the event a denial of certification becomes necessary on any of the enumerated grounds.
Also, for the first time, the ATTR Certification Committee took the modest step to proselytize, by way of an article in the April issue of The Florida Bar Journal. Plans for the coming year include supporting our proposed amendments to the certification standards to ensure passage and smooth implementation. If approved as written, the committee anticipates gearing up for a significant influx of potential applicants, many of whom are among the most seasoned and respected members of the antitrust and trade regulation legal community in Florida.
STEPHEN E. NAGIN, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
The Appellate Court Rules Committee membership is a wonderful group of dedicated, hard-working attorneys and judges. The committee's exceptionally busy agenda illustrates tremendous efforts by the members in addressing the many issues that came before them this year.
One of the first tasks undertaken was an orientation for new members. With the implementation of term limits, about a third of the members appointed this year were new. Anticipating this change, the committee adopted new internal operating procedures last June, which now require a mandatory orientation for new members. The first orientation was held in September 2002 and received rave reviews. Barbara A. Eagan, orientation subcommittee chair, did a fantastic job of putting it together. The new members have hit the ground running, already making significant contributions.
Proposed rule amendments for the upcoming two-year cycle petition include:
* Amendments to Rule 9.020 to distinguish between rendition of trial and appellate orders;
* Amendment to Rule 9.220 to clarify the use of appendices in various appellate proceedings;
* Amendment to Rule 9.420 to require a certificate of service for pro se inmates and other pro se litigants;
* Amendment to Rule 9.130(a)(5) to allow appeals from orders entered on motions for relief from judgment filed under Juvenile Procedure Rule 8.270; and
* Amendments to address the many problems related to payment of court costs by inmates.
A few issues currently being studied by the committee include:
* Whether the issuance of a district court's mandate should be discretionary or mandatory if neither party mores for a stay;
* Whether Rule 9.130 should be expanded to cover nonfinal review of orders denying immunity from suit by state courts under federal law;
* Whether the rules should be amended to clarify issues related to relinquishment of jurisdiction and to address confusion over what is or is not a final order;
* Whether the rules should be amended to clarify page limits for briefs involving cross-appeals;
* How to amend Rule 9.180 to provide for review of abbreviated final orders in workers' compensation cases; and
* Whether the Supreme Court's requirement that electronic copies of briefs be filed in WordPerfect should be extended to allow briefs to be filed in Word and other formats.
In addition to the issues listed above, a joint subcommittee, consisting of members from our Committee, the Rules of Civil Procedure Committee, and the Rules of Criminal Procedure Committee has been established at the request of the Supreme Court to address issues related to the "mailbox rule" and distinctions between filing and service of documents.
My year as chair has been extremely rewarding, in large part due to the efforts of our officers and subcommittee chairs. I laud their efforts and extend my sincere thanks for their many contributions. I extend a special thanks to our Bar support staff, Joanna Mauer, who was of great assistance throughout the year. Last, but not least, I extend my thanks to our Supreme Court liaison, Justice Raoul Cantero.
KATHERINE E. GIDDINGS, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
The Appellate Practice Certification Committee's continued work in this area amply illustrates that appellate certification provides a ready tool to enhance the appellate practitioner's ability to successfully navigate the review of lower court decisions. There ate now 141 Florida Bar members who are substantially involved in appellate work and are board certified appellate practitioners. (1) The committee during this Bar year achieved review and recertification of 20 appellate practitioners. Twenty Bar members filed applications for appellate certification, and the committee approved each of them to sit for the examination. Eighteen applicants sat for the test in March. The committee members will grade the exam, again applying holistic principles. Nine board certified Florida lawyers are eligible to apply and be considered for recertification in 2003.
Participation by members of the judiciary has been instrumental in founding and guiding the growth of this area of certification. The committee is most fortunate to have Judge James R. Jorgenson of the Third District Court of Appeal among its members. The appellate practice certification process is now much more attuned to the realities of appellate practice, with the committee overseeing administration of the area certification process, which includes the members' construction of the test, grading of the exam, and approval of initial applicant and recertification petitions. This committee has pledged to continue the perfection of the review and examination process by carefully reviewing 1) the appellate practice certification and recertification applications for compliance with the rules; 2) the examination specifications; 3) the grading criteria; 4) re-examining the testing and grading process; and 5) facilitating the review for the members of the Bar and the judiciary who are asked to comment on the proficiency of the candidates, both because an applicant has listed them as a reference and through blind references requested by the committee. Each member has contributed considerable time, energy, and thoughtful analysis to achieve these multiple tasks. Thank you to each member of the committee and to Carol Vaught, who serves as staff liaison and whose commitment to the work of the committee is second to none.
The committee invites members of the Appellate Practice Section, of which committee member Angela Flowers is chair, and other interested members of The Florida Bar to apply for appellate certification and to achieve the benchmark recognition of professionalism that this certification will bring.
The advanced skill level that the professionalism appellate certification is intended to identify, and encourage appellate lawyers to maintain, should be the goal of every appellate lawyer. At the core of certification is the enhanced confidence that comes with having passed a higher standard of excellence. This self-assurance can provide the extra resource that is so often needed in dealing with appeals, especially when the client is seeking to overturn an adverse ruling below. The benefits of appellate certification are worth serious consideration today. Won't you step up to the challenge?
E. JON WHITNEY, Chair
This is a historic year for aviation. It was 100 years ago--December 17, 1903--that Orville Wright made the first sustained, controlled flight in a powered aircraft. Darrell Collins wrote, "Before the Wright brothers, no one in aviation did anything fundamentally right. Since the Wright brothers, no one has done anything fundamentally different." And Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft Corporation, stated,"The Wright brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together." Indeed, aviation is near and dear to those serving on the Aviation Law Committee, and the committee members encourage anyone with an interest in aviation to attend our meetings. Our members have a broad range of expertise: tort litigation, including commercial aviation, general aviation, and military aviation accidents; aviation mass disasters; labor and employment law; FAA and NTSB administrative law; space law; and international aviation treaties and agreements.
During the 2002-03 year the Aviation Law Committee provided programs specifically tailored to aviation. The meetings were well attended, often culminating in exciting and diverse discussions on legal issues ranging from aircraft design and operation as well as aircraft and airport security and safety to aircraft registration. One program included a tour of Tampa's Air Route Traffic Control Center. Another included a history of aircraft from those built shortly after the Wright Flyer to the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft and F-15 fighter aircraft. We also had an extremely informative program on Florida and federal lien law for aircraft prepared by James M. Meyer and Greg Grossman. As a result of this program, a subcommittee was formed to consider making recommendations to the Florida Legislature on changes to Florida's aircraft lien law. As we approach the December 17, 2003 anniversary, we will have at our next meeting a presentation on the Wright brothers. The committee continued its past practice of obtaining approval for CLE credits at each of its meetings.
I thank the president and Board of Governors for allowing me to serve as chair of this committee. I also thank past chairs Edward M. Booth, Jr., and Robert L. Feldman, and Vice Chair B. Norris Rickey for their dedication and invaluable assistance during my term. Finally, Bar liaison Connie Stewart continued her tradition of providing superior assistance and guidance.
GREGORY P. SREENAN, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
Throughout the past year, the Aviation Law Certification Committee has continued its efforts to encourage Florida lawyers who practice aviation law to become board certified. The committee has met several times to approve the certification exam questions drafted by its members and to review applications from new applicants and from those renewing their certification. Additional work was done by mail and e-mail. This year's exam was given in March, and in late April, the committee met in Cocoa Beach for the grading session.
As chair of the committee, I have received numerous inquiries from attorneys interested in becoming certified but who have expressed difficulty in obtaining the necessary 60 aviation-related CLE hours during the three-year period prior to applying. I have suggested that they consider the SMU Air Law Symposium, a two-day meeting held annually in Dallas and the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association three-day meetings held twice a year in various locations. Other possibilities include the two-day annual SRI Aircraft Registration and Liens seminar, and, of course, The Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee meetings, which are held three times a year and for which two or three hours of CLE credit each is earned. There are many others that qualify, and any of the committee members will be happy to offer suggestions for those needing CLE credit to qualify. These courses not only will provide the necessary CLE hours, they will help candidates in their preparation for the exam.
The application deadline for next year's exam is in August. The exam will cover the areas of litigation, Federal Aviation Regulations, and FAA enforcement actions, airport operations and land use, airline labor law, space law, aircraft finance and registration, and international treaties and conventions. The committee has prepared a bibliography to help candidates prepare for the exam. More information and an application form may be obtained from The Florida Bar.
I thank Kate Wasson and Dawna Bicknell of The Florida Bar for their help in making all of the meetings and the aviation law certification program a success and for helping me to better fulfill my responsibilities as chair of the committee.
ROBERT L. FELDMAN, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
For more than 20 years, the Board of Legal Specialization and Education has made great strides in enhancing the quality and professionalism of members of The Florida Bar who have had the interest, experience, and expertise to become a Florida Bar board certified lawyer. Through its 16 members, and 162 committee members, and 15-person staff, the BLSE administers the Florida Certification Plan, oversees compliance with the CLE requirement, accredits thousands of CLE courses and individual credit requests each year, and monitors compliance with the basic skills course requirement for new lawyers. Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and the BLSE policies govern the activities of the board, its committees, and staff.
During the 2002-03 year, the certification plan reached a significant milepost with its 20th anniversary. A celebration of the program, its formative years, growth, and accomplishments were featured in a special issue of The Florida Bar Journal published in April 2003. Of particular merit was the introductory letter from Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead in which he stated, "Certification should be the capstone for a lawyer's professionalism goals. The character, competence, and commitment that define professionalism also constitute the essential formula for certification."
Proudly, the BLSE wishes to acknowledge the five current justices of the Supreme Court of Florida who became board certified during their time as practicing lawyers. The BLSE appreciates the courts' support and their continuing efforts to maintain the standards of excellence and professionalism that the program represents.
Expansion of certification, both in available areas and members, continues to be a goal of the BLSE. During the past year standards for construction law certification were finalized and are now before the Supreme Court for approval. Still under consideration is certification for intellectual property law which will likely be approved in some form within the 2003-04 year. Almost 4,000 lawyers have achieved board certification and many more are in the process of application or have recently taken certification exams.
Applications for certification are available in the fall of each year. To become board certified, applicants must meet rigorous, but attainable, standards: 1) a minimum of five years in practice; 2) substantial involvement in their respective legal specialty during that period of practice; 3) a minimum number of CLE hours in their area of practice within the three to five years prior to application; 4) passage of a comprehensive examination; and 5) an unblemished disciplinary record including positive references through a confidential and comprehensive peer review procedure. Each successful applicant is reviewed (but not re-examined) every five years by the area committees to ensure that the qualifications continue to be met.
Peer review by its very nature tends to be subjective and personal and may come from peers who are met within an adversarial setting. The review must be anonymous and confidential to protect the identities--and thus the objectivity--of the reviewers. Positive peer review is an essential requirement for board certification. Under the direction of the Supreme Court, BLSE has an obligation both to the public and to the Bar to ensure the certification review process is fair and accurate.
The BLSE carefully balances the interest of the applicant and the standards of the certification plan. If a certification committee recommends denial of an applicant for initial certification of recertification, the BLSE Standards Committee, under the experienced direction of Vice Chair Jeffrey Michael Cohen, is the first level of review. After consideration, the Standards Committee then meets with the full board to discuss the recommendation and the content of the file. Changes in the review process have been a primary focus of BLSE for the past 18 months. The focus was to assure each applicant the opportunity for a personal appearance and the opportunity to provide additional evidence in the early stages of review before an appeal is filed. The new procedures will give greater protection to both the applicant and the integrity of the certification plan.
The BLSE Communications Committee has been very active this year. Under the outstanding leadership of Judge Ralph Artigliere, many new ideas have been discussed to elevate awareness of board certification. The April Bar Journal was one of many ideas that we anticipate will have a positive effect in encouraging qualified members to seek board certification. We have also met with the Citizens Forum of the Bar to stimulate discussion about the program and to learn how we might better approach the public with information needed to raise the consciousness level of consumers when searching for legal assistance. Realizing that statewide advertising is expensive, our best messengers are our certified lawyers. As more lawyers become board certified, the public will more fully recognize the benefit of certified lawyers handling their legal needs.
Under the capable leadership of David Cook, our Rules and Policies Committee has also had an active year. Our rules and policies are under a constant state of revision and through the work of David's committee, careful scrutiny is given to ensure consistency in the language and application of the various governing provisions. The new emeritus status is currently under review. The stated intent is to recognize the past and continuing contribution of a certified lawyer in the advancement of the specialty area through related career activities that do not constitute the actual practice of law. Board certified lawyers who become judges, mediators, or law professors who cannot maintain the practice standards to retain certification may elect to apply for emeritus status.
The BLSE consists of a dedicated group of individuals who volunteer enormous amounts of time and talent on behalf of one of the most worthy programs offered by The Florida Bar. I commend them all for their hard work, their devotion to improvement in the administration of justice, and for their overwhelming sense of fairness in every task undertaken and every certification application reviewed.
If you are board certified, we commend your accomplishment. If you are not board certified, please consider this a personal challenge to become board certified. If your practice area is available under the program, and you meet the qualifications, we ask that you consider taking the steps to make board certification the capstone of your career.
NORMAN VAUGHAN-BIRCH, Chair
Business Litigation Certification
As in past years, the Business Litigation Committee continues to explore new ways to increase the number of board certified business litigators while at the same time maintaining the necessary substantive and ethical standards. Among the procedural efforts of the committee, it recommended an amendment to the certification rules that clarifies the approved tribunals before which a matter can be deemed eligible for meeting certification requirements. Another amendment was recommended to clarify what types of matters are eligible for those requirements before an applicant is permitted to sit for the exam. Finally, the committee recommended an amendment that changes the continuing legal education time frame for initial applicants to three years immediately preceding application, rather than five years. The amendment will also require the applicant to document the completion of 50 hours of continuing legal education in business litigation, without delineating which of those hours consisted of continuing education in substantive law, as opposed to procedural law.
The committee has revised the 2003 examination and its specifications and provided test applicants with additional examination specifications and an expanded outline of the possible topics for the examination. The examination currently consists of two mandatory essays, along with both mandatory and optional multiple choice sections. The latter sections cover a variety of topics that may include: contracts; business torts; business entities; creditor rights/bankruptcy; uniform commercial code; real estate and construction law; eminent domain; intellectual property; alternative dispute resolution; civil procedure; evidence; ethics and litigation skills. These changes are expected to provide the examinees with the ability to better prepare for the examination.
Eight attorneys successfully passed the 2002 examination and there are currently six applicants approved to sit for the 2003 examination in May. Six additional applications were still pending at the time this article was prepared.
This was the second year that the committee reviewed recertification applications. Of the 108 eligible recertification applicants, 91 applied; 51 were approved; and 40 are pending. Sixteen either resigned or did not reapply. At the present time, there are a total of 202 board certified business litigators.
The committee continues to encourage the BLSE and the Board of Governors to educate the consumers of legal services on our board certification program. Once these consumers routinely ask prospective attorneys whether they are board certified in an area of practice, more Florida lawyers will appreciate the benefit of becoming board certified.
My sincere thanks to my fellow committee members for their hard work throughout the year. A special thanks goes to our certification specialist, Carol Vaught, who continues to do a terrific job. The entire committee is very grateful for her efforts. I also want to thank our BLSE liaison, Harry Payton, who has been a great source of wisdom and communication.
GARY S. SALZMAN, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
The Florida Bar Civil Procedure Rules Committee concluded a busy and productive year. The committee adjusted to a significant change in its membership due to the implementation of term limits but was ably assisted by a very active and involved membership roster. Courtney Grimm did a tremendous job serving as secretary and Vice Chairs Tom Slater and Richard Levenstein provided invaluable leadership.
The committee's main function during the past calendar year was to finalize and prepare proposed rules changes with various and sundry related committee notes and commentaries. This was done in accordance with the two-year reporting cycle applicable to the committee's work. Thirteen proposed rules changes were drafted and seven forms were either created or amended. Once drafted in final form and approved by the committee, they were forwarded to The Florida Bar Board of Governors for review, comment, and recommendations. Thereafter, the proposed rules rule and form changes, committee notes and commentaries were forwarded to the Supreme Court for its consideration. These proposed changes are contained in the biennial report of the Florida Civil Procedure Rules Committee. They are available for review by contacting Madelon Horwich, the committee's liaison to the Bar (850/561-5707). The proposed rules changes were published for the general public and Bar members and public comments were invited. Those comments were forwarded to the committee members for review and placed into the record.
The proposed rules changes are pending before Florida's Supreme Court. Several private citizens have requested oral argument regarding some or all of the proposed rules changes. The court has scheduled oral argument regarding such proposed changes for May 7, 2003, at 9:30 a.m.
The committee also continued in its efforts to complete a special assignment received by the Florida Supreme Court relating to possible revision or changes to the uniform guidelines to taxation of costs. Past committee chair Philip Jones initially spearheaded this effort. Dan Bean from Jacksonville and Judge J. Kevin Carey of Tampa have assumed responsibilities for this project and their subcommittee for the proposed revision of statewide uniform guidelines for taxation of costs in civil actions is endeavoring to prepare and forward a final to the Florida Supreme Court by July 18, 2003.
In addition, the committee was asked by the Florida Supreme Court to participate in a joint subcommittee to address the "mailing grace period" and "reverse mailbox rule." Three members each from the Rules of Criminal Procedure Committee, Rules of Appellate Procedure Committee, and the Civil Procedure Rules Committee were appointed to serve on this joint subcommittee to consider these two proposals and attempt to provide a uniform application of such issues in the affected rules. The Supreme Court has asked this subcommittee to present its proposal by October.
In closing, it has been an honor to have had the opportunity to serve the committee this past year. The committee is a robust and august body with impressive intellect and inspirational commitment to preserving and promoting the ideals of our system of justice.
Last, but certainly not least, Madelon Horwich deserves special recognition and commendation for her hard work, professionalism, and immense assistance to me and the committee as liaison. Thank you.
DOMINIC C. MACKENZIE, Chair
Civil Trial Certification
2002 brought many positive changes to the rules governing civil trial certification. After many years of struggling to increase access to civil trial certification while maintaining the highest level of competency and professionalism, numerous far-reaching proposed amendments have been approved by the committee and the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. These proposals will soon be considered by the Board of Governors.
The proposed amendments address the increased difficulty of satisfying the trial requirements for certification and recertification. Applicants have indicated that, because of mediation and the handling of fewer but more complex cases, they are not trying as many cases as in the past, thereby making it more difficult to satisfy the number of trials required for certification and/or recertification.
In addition to its duties and responsibilities in applying the certification standards and policies, the committee is also responsible for drafting and grading the civil trial certification examination. The committee continues to test for competency in the areas of civil procedure, evidence, ethics, and litigation skills. As they were last year, individuals taking the examination were again offered the opportunity to take the test on their personal computers.
In 2002, 142 of the 157 applicants due to recertify filed applications, and 129 have been approved, with 13 still pending. Sixty applications for certification were filed, and 43 applicants were approved to sit for the March 7, 2003, examination. As of the time of this report, grading of the 2003 exams has not yet been completed.
I am grateful to all of the members of this hard-working committee. On behalf of all the members, I wish to especially thank our Florida Bar certification specialist, Cherie Morgan, for her tireless efforts to make our job manageable and enjoyable.
ANTHONY J. CAGGIANO, Chair
Clients' Security Fund
The Florida Bar's Clients' Security Fund comprises 32 attorneys representing all geographic regions of the state. The CSF was initially established to reimburse persons who suffer the loss of their money or property as a result of "misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking or conversion by a member of The Florida Bar." Committee members investigate claims brought by claimants who believe that they have incurred monetary damages as a result of an attorney/ client relationship. Particularly, CSF investigates claims involving the theft of money or property held in trust and situations in which the attorney has failed to perform any useful services after being paid a fee. The CSF claims are assigned to an investigating member who resides in the same county or geographic region as the attorney who is the subject of the investigation. The investigating attorney typically reviews the claim application and all backup documents and contacts the claimant, the accused attorney, substitute or replacement counsel, Florida Bar counsel, and any other individual who may have knowledge concerning the claim. In addition, the investigation may include the review of all relevant court and public records of The Florida Bar. The investigating member then prepares a written report with a recommendation to either approve or deny the claim. The recommendations of the investigator are presented to the full CSF at one of its three-day meetings during the year. The CSF then votes to approve of deny the recommendations of the investigating attorney. Ultimately, the Board of Governors makes the final decision on approval of the CSF's recommendation.
The most common claim to the CSF involves claims for prepaid legal services which were never provided. Under the rules regulating the CSF, The Florida Bar is limited to reimbursement of $2,500.
The CSF now operates under a recently approved rule that authorizes the CSF to pay claims up to $10,000, unless within 14 days from the date of assignment for review the Board of Governors member designated to review the claim notifies CSF staff to place the claim on the next Board of Governors agenda. On all claim awards in excess of $10,000, the CSF makes a recommendation for payment and the Board of Governors must give final approval. The CSF is assisted by the invaluable efforts of Suzanne Dunn, CSF coordinator, Michael A. Tartaglia, director, programs division, and Andrea Vanstone, CSF clerk.
Every member of The Florida Bar contributes $20 of their annual dues to fund the CSF. The CSF has consistently sought to increase the dollar allotment from the annual dues to increase the potential recovery pool for the CSF. The CSF is currently reviewing three significant proposed changes to its regulations. The first change would allow the CSF to pay to claimants' funds which had been escrowed from a settlement, probate, of other legal matter for payment to third parties, such as physicians or health care providers. The second change would allow the CSF to initiate the claim process when it is provided with information of known potential claimants who had not yet filed a claim. The final proposed regulation would allow the CSF to reimburse a claimant when there is a determination by a court that the attorney was grossly negligent in allowing a member of the attorney's staff to commit an act that allows a reimbursable loss.
The CSF is on the front lines of The Florida Bar's Dignity in Law program and each of the investigating members recognizes the importance of the CSF in remedying the damages caused to clients by a few in our profession. Any input or suggestions relating to the CSF and, particularly, its means of operation and its ability to remedy wrongs would be greatly appreciated.
MARK J. RAGUSA, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The Code and Rules of Evidence Committee of The Florida Bar is one of the standing Bar rules committees, but is unlike other rules committees due to the hybrid nature of the Florida Evidence Code. The Florida Evidence Code consists of statutory provisions enacted by the legislature, which provisions are commonly (although not automatically) adopted as rules of procedure by the Florida Supreme Court on a biennial basis. Accordingly, the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee is significantly and regularly involved in the legislative process, in evaluating proposed legislation that would affect the law of evidence, and in making recommendations of support or opposition to the Board of Governors and other interested parties and entities concerning such proposed legislation. The committee may also recommend initiation and adoption of legislation that would improve the Florida Evidence Code.
In carrying out these functions, the committee seeks input from interested parties and groups within and outside The Florida Bar, evaluates these comments and positions, engages in study and debate, and attempts to offer a balanced analysis of proposed legislation, prior to determining a proposed position advocacy.
In accordance with the legislative policies and procedures of The Florida Bar, the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee obtains authorization from the Board of Governors to engage in such legislative and political activities.
Our legislative subcommittee chair, Michael P. Dickey, worked hard to get SB 524 pre-filed. Over the past two years, the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee has advocated a change in F.S. [sub-section] 90.803 and 90.902, to create a business records certification procedure similar to that within the federal system, by which a proponent of documentary business record evidence could offer that evidence at trial without the need for a records custodian unless objected to at pretrial. The bill is pending at this time.
The committee advocated a proposal to modify F.S. [section] 90.104 to eliminate the need for a subsequent objection at trial in cases where the trial judge has made a "definitive" ruling on a pretrial issue. It anticipates renewed efforts on this proposal next session.
The committee was successful in getting [section] 90.959 renumbered and removed from the Evidence Code. It had been the committee's position that the subject matter was not appropriate for inclusion in the code.
Part of the function of the committee is reporting to the Supreme Court of Florida, on a two-year cycle, recommendations regarding adoption of enacted laws of evidence as rules of evidence by the court, to the extent such laws are procedural in nature. No report was necessary this year, but another report is due in 2004.
In March the Advanced Evidence Seminar was presented in Tampa in conjunction with the Trial Lawyers Section and the Criminal Law Section. This important seminar was organized by Jesse Faerber and we acknowledge and appreciate his hard work.
Thanks are due to all of our members for their hard work and dedication, and particularly to Mike Dickey, Al Saikali, Adams Weaver, Tom Barber, Aubrey Rudd, the members of the fast track subcommittee, the vice chair, Judge Shelley Kravitz, Justice Fred Lewis, Supreme Court liaison, Frank Walker, board liaison, and, as always, to our Bar liaison, Ann Chittenden, whose knowledge, helpfulness, dedication, and diplomatic skills are a perennial resource for the committee.
Many of this committee's most senior members were termed out on June 30, 2002. A concerted effort has been made to recruit new members of the judiciary and law professors to continue the tradition of collegiality and dedication that was typified by their service.
ROBERT F. TACHER, Chair
Committee on Relations with Certified Public Accountants
The Committee on Relations with Certified Public Accountants continues to foster exchanges of information of mutual interest to CPAs and attorneys. There ate several issues of national interest that have been identified such as the Sabanes-Oxley Act and the privacy act sections of the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act. There are also issues particular to Florida, such as extending the sales tax on services.
This year the committee has completed some new activities that were in the planning stages in last year's committee.
Goodwill Gathering of Attorneys and CPAs: In conjunction with Collier County Bar Association and the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Institute of CPAs, the committee held its inaugural Goodwill Gathering of Attorneys and CPAs on December 5 with a complimentary reception provided by Northern Trust Bank in Naples. The gathering provided an excellent opportunity for social interaction between local attorneys and CPAs. Approximately 60 professionals attended. Due to its success, the gathering is expected to be continued and replicated in other Florida locations. The project was under the able leadership of Basil Bain, vice chair, an attorney and CPA with the law firm of Cummings & Lockwood in Naples.
Continuing Education Seminar: The committee held a seminar in May in Miami to focus on the impact of privacy laws on business. Advances in technology and geopolitical events have spurred legislation aimed at protecting an individual's fundamental right to privacy. This legislation is of particular importance to any business that comes in contact with personal health or financial data. Attorneys and CPAs with clients in the health care and financial services industries must be aware of the pitfalls created by these new rules and understand how to help their clients stay in compliance. Specifically, the Gramm-Leach-Biley Financial Modernization Act of 1999 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 are the most significant pieces of federal legislation affecting the financial services and health care industries in the last 10 years.
Since proper compliance requires the coordination of a business' CPA and attorney, the seminar is structured for members of both professions and is intended to further the committee's mission. Seminar attendees will learn how to minimize the risk of enforcement action and litigation for their clients. The seminar, Counseling Clients Regarding Privacy; A Guide for Attorneys and Accountants, is cosponsored by the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Florida Association of Attorney-CPAs. Northern Trust Bank of Florida in Miami is hosting the event and is providing the venue, lunch, and parking.
The chair of the event and the person whose persistence is responsible for it happening is Eduardo R. Arista, a CPA and attorney, who practices business and tax law in Coral Gables.
Future Plans: The committee intends to continue these new programs and also to attempt the establishment of a Web page to be accessible by both CPAs and attorneys.
SYDNEY S. TRAUM, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
The scope and function of the Consumer Protection Law Committee is to study Florida's consumer protection laws, to help strengthen them where necessary, and to consider means whereby the consumer public and the Bar will become better informed about laws that protect them.
The committee has engaged in several activities during the 200203 Bar year. The committee has continued its support of the Florida Call-A-Law Program. This program was started in 1990 and is a collection of 65 recorded audio messages and written scripts on a variety of basic legal topics of interest to the general public, including criminal law, family law, landlord/tenant and civil rights topics. Each message is two or three minutes in length. The public may access these voice messages with a pushbutton telephone by dialing (850) 561-1200, and may access the written scripts via the Bar Internet address (www.flabar.org). The topics are designed to provide Floridians with basic legal information to inform them of their legal rights and responsibilities, and to educate them as to when an attorney should be consulted. Members of the committee, along with members of other committees, annually review and update the messages and scripts in order to provide the most current information on Florida's laws. Currently, the committee is pursuing the possibility of implementing a Spanish version of the Florida Call-A-Law Program.
The committee also provides CLEs on various consumer law topics. The committee is currently planning a CLE for the June annual meeting of the Bar. The topics to be addressed are arbitration clauses and identity theft.
FELICIA R. BANKS, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
Preparing the annual criminal board certification exam is the Criminal Law Certification Committee's most challenging undertaking. All members participate in drafting essay and multiple choice questions. Individual members bring a unique perspective to the drafting process depending on their area of expertise from within the broad realm of criminal trial and appellate practice. All proposed exam questions are reviewed and critiqued by the entire committee. The committee actually prepares two exams with overlapping components, one for criminal trial and another for criminal appellate specialists.
There are currently 369 attorneys board certified in criminal law, and of these 312 are trial specialists while 57 are appellate specialists. In 2002, 21 new applicants sat for the certification exam and 14 passed. Ten attorneys passed the trial exam and four passed the appellate exam. This year 33 trial and four appellate attorneys have applied to sit for the exam. The committee members spend a considerable amount of time reviewing the initial and recertification applications to ensure that each applicant meets the rigorous standards necessary to sit for the exam or for recertification.
Four new members joined the committee this year and I welcome them and thank those seasoned members for providing the continuity .necessary for the committee to operate smoothly. I speak for all the members in extending special thanks to our Bar liaison, Linda Cook, for her able assistance throughout the year. We all appreciate her dedication and professionalism.
KAREN KINNEY, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee has historically been one of the more desirable Bar committee appointments. I was finally appointed to the committee in 1997 (if you're still trying, don't give up), and after attending only two meetings, I must admit I failed to see the attraction. "Slow," "frustrating," "impossible to get anything passed" were some of the descriptions of the committee's work (some of these descriptions were, in fact, used by me). Having now served for six years, however, I am firmly convinced that this committee is a marvel of success. Imagine creating a committee of 45 lawyers, comprising equal parts prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and law professors, and mandating that any proposal must be adopted by two-thirds of the committee members. It's a wonder that any proposal emerges from such a group. Yet, that is the beauty of this committee.
We receive many requests and referrals every year, asking us to consider amendments to existing rules of the creation of new rules. These requests come from everyone involved in the criminal justice system, from attorneys and judges to witnesses and defendants. We assign each request to a subcommittee, which holds meetings to discuss the merits and recommend an action to the full committee.
The full committee engages in its own discussion and debate. With members representing competing interests and different perspectives, the committee's success cannot be found in the quantity of proposed changes it recommends to the Supreme Court, but in the quality of those changes. The committee does not adopt most of the proposals it considers, and that is a testament to its purpose. It is a recognition that the rules of criminal procedure, like the law itself, undergo change as a process of evolution, not revolution. The committee does not recommend the adoption of a new rule, or the modification of an existing one, unless there is broad consensus among those within the criminal justice system that change is needed, and that the proposed change will improve the proper administration of justice.
The committee recognizes that there are circumstances when a significant change in the law requires our immediate attention and, when appropriate, a more immediate modification of the rules. During the 2001 Bar year, the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee adopted a fast track procedure to respond quickly to changes in the law and to requests from the Supreme Court for expedited consideration of rule changes. The procedure is now fully implemented as a standard practice of the committee and has served to make it a more responsive and effective body. Here is a summary of our work over this past year:
Proposals Adopted by the Supreme Court: Rule 3.111(b)(1). Providing Counsel to Indigents (Amendment). Rule 3.994. Order of No Incarceration (New). This amendment clarifies the circumstances under which the court may discharge appointed counsel in misdemeanor cases and the impact of that discharge upon subsequent court proceedings. The rule now provides that the trial court has the discretion not to discharge appointed counsel even if it determines that it will not incarcerate the defendant following a plea or finding of guilt. The amendment recognizes there may be instances in which due process concerns justify appointed counsel's continued representation even if a defendant no longer faces the possibility of incarceration.
The rule and order also incorporate procedures designed to ensure that appointed counsel may not be discharged if the defendant is being held in custody pending trial. Finally, the rule now provides that if a defendant is placed on probation after an order of no incarceration is issued, the defendant may not be incarcerated pending a subsequent probation violation hearing or after revocation of probation. The form order provides uniformity in properly discharging court-appointed counsel in misdemeanor cases.
Special thanks to John Morrison, assistant public defender in Miami-Dade County, whose diligent efforts were integral in achieving adoption of this rule.
Rule 3.170(l) Pleas (Amendment). This rule was amended to correctly reference the appropriate portion of Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.140.
Rule 3.190 Pretrial Motions (Committee Note) (Amendment). The Supreme Court approved for publication an amendment to the committee notes, to provide that if the trial court exercises its discretion to hear a motion to suppress during trial, the court may withhold ruling until after the verdict is rendered, thereby avoiding double jeopardy issues and preserving the state's appellate rights if the motion to suppress is granted after a finding of guilt.
Rule 3.361 Witness Attendance and Subpoenas (Amendment). The amendments were largely an effort to streamline and simplify the language of the rule. The changes also provide a single contempt provision for violations of the rule and clarify that any subpoena issued by an attorney of record or the clerk is enforceable through the court's contempt power, and that the attendance requirement for subpoenas applies to production subpoenas as well.
Rule 3.704 The Criminal Punishment Code (Committee Note) (Amendment). The Supreme Court approved the proposed committee note to explain a 2001 amendment to Rule 3.704(d)(14)(B). The rule was amended to reflect a statutory change in the definition of "prior record." "Prior record" was amended to include juvenile dispositions of offenses committed within five years of the commission of the primary offense (the previous statute and rule defined "prior record" to include juvenile dispositions of offenses committed within three years of the commission of the primary offense). The committee note alerts practitioners that the rule, as amended, applies to primary offenses committed on or after July 1, 2001, the effective date of the new legislation.
Other Proposals: Rule 3.203 Defendant's Mental Retardation as a Bar to the Imposition of Death Sentence (New). The Supreme Court deferred consideration of the committee's proposed Rule 3.203 and will consider it together with several pending cases which raise claims affecting the substance of this proposed rule.
There are several additional referrals which are at various stages of committee consideration, some of which have already been adopted by the full committee and will be submitted to the Supreme Court as part of the committee's two-year cycle report in 2004.
On behalf of the committee, the chair acknowledges several members, who, because of retirement or mandatory term limits, are not eligible to continue serving. Our heartfelt thanks to Judge Dedee Costello, State Attorney Joseph D'Alessandro, Professor Jerry Latimer, Abe Laeser, and Calianne Lantz, each of whom has worked tirelessly on behalf of this committee for many years, and who provided an institutional memory which will be sorely missed.
The chair also thanks the officers and subcommittee chairs for their outstanding dedication this year: vice chairs Judge Olin Shinholser, Calianne Lantz and Michael Catalano; secretary Howardene Garrett; subcommittee chairs Bruce Udolf, George Tragos, Judge Stan Blake, Ann Finnell, Roberta Mandel, Randy Murrell, and Jodie Breece (who also served as parliamentarian). It has been a pleasure serving with you.
Finally, thanks to Jodi Jennings, Bar liaison, who has provided invaluable guidance and assistance.
JUDGE KEVIN EMAS, Chair
The Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board
In the December 2002 75th anniversary issue of The Florida Bar Journal, Bar Executive Director John F. Harkness, Jr., emphasized the importance of the Florida Bar Journal by observing that "lawyers of Florida have come to depend on the Bar Journal to chronicle the evolution of the law in the state." At present, the Journal reaches in excess of 65,000 readers and continues to enjoy a reputation among the judiciary and lawyers with its goal to "Advance the Competence and Public Responsibility of Lawyers."
Our 40-member Editorial Board, under the watchful eye of Editor Cheryle Dodd, has kept Florida lawyers abreast of legal trends and practices through careful editing and selection of articles published in both the Journal and News. This past year, the Journal delivered timely articles dealing with practical "nuts and bolts" advice on a variety of issues including ethics and professionalism such as John Allen's "Walking Through the Minefield--Ethical and Liability Risks in Auditor Response Letters" and Mark R. Osherow's "Counsel Beware: Considerations Before Implementing Florida's Civil Theft Statute." Additionally the board, through the efforts of Fran Toomey, Judith Koch, and David Cassetty, assisted in the editing of a special edition of the Journal focusing on board certification/legal specialization.
Characteristic of prior years, our most daunting task and greatest achievement was the timely publication of the extensive Florida Bar Journal Directory. The directory continues to be the most popular reference book in every lawyer's toolbox. The directory, now in excess of 900 pages, provides a complete listing of attorney contact information including e-mail addresses and facsimile numbers, and state and federal courts, as well as commercial service providers.
The board desired to recognize the significant effort expended by contributing authors to the Journal through the newly created The Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award. Through this prestigious award, the authors of the two best lead articles each year will receive a certificate and recognition in the Bar News for their achievement in legal writing.
The board also oversees publication of The Florida Bar News. With a circulation in excess of 75,000, this twice monthly publication advertises CLE offerings, provides current legislative information, summaries of Board of Governors actions, employment opportunities, and updated information as to the relocation of your colleagues. As we step deeper into the electronic age, our Web site continues to gain popularity as it offers both the Journal and News articles several days before mailing. Access to the site can be found at www.flabar.org and search engines are available to locate specific articles and past issues of the Journal and News.
Following the lead of past years, the Annual Meeting provides the board with a unique opportunity to present its annual writing seminar, focusing on legal writing and professionalism. Our 2003 program entitled "The Lawyer as a Storyteller" features Florida Supreme Court Justice Raul Cantero and Mark Curriden, author of the best selling nonfiction book entitled Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism, which chronicles the lynching of Ed Johnson, a black man who was wrongly convicted of rape in 1906 and sentenced to death in Tennessee.
Our board has been fortunate to conduct business meetings in both Tampa and Miami to enable members to exchange ideas on how to best serve The Florida Bar through our activities and publications. Many thanks to my fellow board members who have made this year so gratifying and successful. We will sorely miss our dedicated members who will be rotating off the committee due to term limits. These members have substantially contributed to the success of our board during the last several years.
Finally, none of the foregoing accomplishments could be realized without the exemplary performance of the Bar Journal and News staff led by Editor Cheryle Dodd and Journal Associate Editor Laura Johnson, News Managing Editor Mark Killian, News Senior Editor Gary Blankenship, and News Associate Editor Jan Pudlow.
STEVEN B. LESSER, Chair
The Education Law Committee of The Florida Bar is a substantive law committee that was approved initially by the Board of Governors at its October 2001 meeting, and was subsequently given permanent status by the board in October 2002. The purpose of the Education Law Committee is to bring together attorneys who practice education law, or are interested in education law, to review existing areas of education law, to study recent developments in this specialized area of practice of the law, and to keep the Bar informed of significant developments in this practice area. The recent legislative changes to the Florida School Code, and the effect on the K-20 education structure in Florida, made the establishment of this committee imperative. The committee's position is that the collaboration of lawyers representing the expansive and diverse legal needs and issues of their educational clients will enhance the competency of legal representation in these areas. The committee is dedicated to having all new or current members, whatever their level of knowledge or expertise in education law may be, feel welcome and comfortable with participating in committee activities. The committee takes an active role in communicating and articulating legislative changes, publishes the Florida Education Law Journal, and holds a regular annual seminar addressing higher education and/or school law issues. The committee meets three times a year to study current education law issues and to share new information in this practice area, and it is in the formative stages of establishing subcommittees to further research and study issues of specialized concern to this practice area. The synergetic strength of the committee is its cross representation of attorneys that represent clients or institutions from all levels of education, public and private.
The Education Law Committee has held four business meetings, three of which have included distinguished and outstanding CLE presentations. The Florida Education Law Journal under the leadership of Marylin Batista-McNamara will publish its third issue in June 2003. The Journal is the first on-line committee/section publication for The Florida Bar.
Membership continues to grow due to the outstanding coverage that the committee has had in The Florida Bar News and due to the excellent work of Ed Marko as chair of the membership subcommittee. This June marks the first Education Law Annual Seminar, an all-day seminar designed to attract education law practitioners at K-20 levels. Pam Bernard, vice chair, has put together a formidable cast of presenters for the seminar, which will be held June 26 during the Bar's Annual Meeting at the Orlando World Marriott Hotel. Other projects in formative stages are video conferencing and the development of a Web site and listserv for the committee.
A major challenge for the committee will be exploration of the feasibility of section status. It is incumbent on the members to be mindful of the rigorous requirements for section status. The committee must submit a petition to the Board of Governors for approval. The petition must include a statement of the basic purpose of the proposed section, a statement demonstrating the need for the proposed section, a list of initial officers, executive council members and proposed committees, a list of proposed meeting dates, a set of proposed bylaws, a detailed budget, a statement of the types of programs and specific proposals, and an estimate of how many members of The Florida Bar will join the proposed section within its first three years. This latter requirement must be met by a petition signed by the chair-pro tem, chair-elect, and all members of the initial executive council and certify that at least 200 members of The Florida Bar have expressed an interest (via signing a petition) in joining the proposed section and paying the proposed dues.
Committee meetings are open and all Florida Bar members are welcome to attend and participate, either as a visitor, informal member, or to seek official membership. The Florida Education Law Journal has a link at the Education Law Committee site. Deep appreciation is extended to The Florida Bar for its ongoing support and recognition of this vital area of practice.
VIRGINIA TANNER-OTTS, Chair
EIder Law Certification
The Elder Law Certification Committee has worked very hard this year, as it has since its beginning in 1998, to develop the elder law certification process. We are proud of the work of all of our members in developing examinations that accurately assess elder law skills and knowledge.
Every year the committee drafts new questions for our question bank and reviews and updates the existing bank. The committee works very hard to ensure that the content of the examination is an accurate reflection of the identified areas of elder law practice.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of assessment, the committee this year has been working closely with Dr. Sue Legg in both the development and grading of the examinations. The committee would also like to extend a special thanks to our Bar staff liaison, Cherie Morgan, for her hard work and guidance, which helps us work more efficiently and effectively.
On March 2, 2003, the Elder Law Section gave its sixth certification examination. Ten applications were filed, and nine were approved to take the examination with one withdrawal. In addition, this year 27 certified elder law attorneys are up for recertification, in our first re-certification cycle. Since the beginning of certification in elder law in 1998, 49 attorneys have become certified.
The Elder Law Section and the Elder Law Certification Committee work closely to promote the benefits of certification among elder law attorneys. The certification review course, presented every year by the Elder Law Section, has become recognized as an excellent review for the examination, as well as an excellent review for all practitioners in this field. The continued strong attendance is a reflection of a continued interest in certification.
We are very proud of our accomplishments this year, and look forward to the rewards of hard work in continuing to develop elder law certification. Thanks again to all members of the committee.
EDWIN M. BOYER, Chair
Health Law Certification
The Health Law Certification Committee, in approaching its first decade of service, continues to strive to improve the application, evaluation, and examination process. Since health law is practiced in such a vast and ever-changing regulatory environment, the most critical challenge to the committee is to keep up with changes in the law and pertinent regulations and to make the examination current and relevant and a fair test of the examinee's knowledge, application, and reasoning ability.
The health care industry continues to be rocked with civil and criminal fraud scandals and continuous allegations of wrongdoing involving billing violations and medically unnecessary services. Competent advice to providers and practitioners is essential in an atmosphere of intense regulatory scrutiny.
The committee believes that the certification process is most relevant in the health care arena and some providers ate coming to recognize it as a measure of competence, diligence, and dedication to professionalism. We hope to continue that process.
By the end of the 2002-03 certification cycle, the committee will have held four meetings and other conference calls. During these meetings, the committee spends the majority of its time refining the exam specifications as well as drafting new multiple choice and essay questions for the examination. The exam currently consists of 64 multiple choice questions worth 30 percent of the total exam grade and three essay questions worth 70 percent of the total exam grade.
The committee reviewed 12 initial applications to sit for the 2003 health law certification examination. The initial application demonstrates the applicant's five-year practice of law requirement; substantial (no less than 40 percent) involvement in health care law; and the peer review process wherein the applicant submits tire names of attorneys familiar with the applicant's health law practice. The applicant must also demonstrate the completion of 60 hours of approved health law certification credits. Certification credit requests are reviewed by the committee throughout the year. After review and approval of the application by the committee, the ap plication must then be approved by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. After this final approval, the applicant is notified of his or her eligibility to sit for the exam. This year the exam was held on May 16 in Tampa. Recertification is required after five years of being certified in health law. This year the committee reviewed seven recertification applications.
As this year also marked the 20th anniversary of the overall certification program, two members of the committee, Jim Farrell and Bill Spratt co-authored an article published in the Apri1 2003 Bar Journal. Thanks to Jim and Bill for an excellent presentation.
While there are currently 95 board certified health law attorneys in Florida, the committee still struggles with how to educate the public on the value of certification and attract more lawyers to the process.
Studies and statistics appear to show little commitment to the process by large law firms; very few of the lawyers in their health law departments are board certified. Law schools have not joined the movement or have not been invited to join. Until the Board of Governors is fully certified, it is unlikely that we, in Florida, will enjoy the level of support seen in Arizona where Bar endorsed billboards tout board certification for lawyers. We still have a lot of work to do.
After losing two former chairs, Maria Currier and Joanne Martin, last year to term limits, the committee again loses two long serving and valued members, Kirk Davis and Richard Jones, to term limits this year. The departure of these stalwart, experienced, dedicated, and talented committee members leaves a void that will be a challenge to fill. New members Wendy Hansen and Bob Zack were assigned to work on multiple choice questions. Special thanks goes to Jim Thomison for his tireless work on monitoring, correcting, and refining the multiple choice questions, as well as to Barbara DelCastillo for her overall exam review prior to publication. We have the finest and most dedicated BLSE liaison in Lew Fishman who shares BLSE information and analysis in detail and supports our efforts fully. Thanks also to our BOG liaison Mike Glazer. Finally, a special thanks to our staff liaison, Michelle Lamar-cuff, for her excellent work and sensitive reminders to our busy members and chair. A very special thanks to the executive director of the certification program, Dawna Bicknell, for her long and tireless efforts to improve the Bar for the benefit of the public.
JEFFREY L. MYERS, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Certification
On March 7, 2003, the Immigration and Nationality Law Certification Committee gave its ninth certification examination. This past year the committee has continued to work hard in both the review of initial and recertification applications and in preparing a certification examination.
Immigration and nationality law certification was first presented to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education in November 1992 by Terry Christian on behalf of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. It was formally approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1994. In its first year, 24 applicants became board certified as specialists in the area of immigration and nationality law. Although the number of applicants has declined in past years, the committee continues to set high standards of proficiency and skills in the field of immigration and nationality law to affirm the representation of special competence.
Every lawyer certified in immigration and nationality law has practiced law on a full-time basis for at least five years. Each certified lawyer has had substantial involvement--40 percent or more--in the practice of immigration and nationality law during the three years immediately preceding application. In addition, they have fulfilled a peer review requirement, completed a minimum 60 hours of continuing legal education within three years, and passed a written examination.
In 2003, four applicants were recertified and three initial applicants were approved and sat for the examination. We hope and anticipate that more examinees will be applying in the near future.
All committee members completed work assignments thoroughly and timely, and attended meetings as necessary to prepare a brand new exam relating to current law. The committee met three times by conference call and planned to meet in April to grade exams.
We are extremely proud of the fine accomplishments of all the energetic members of the committee; all have truly worked very hard. Many thanks to all for their diligent efforts.
OSCAR LEVIN, Chair
International Law Certification
The Florida Bar defines international law as "the practice of law dealing with issues, problems, or disputes arising from any and all aspects of the relations between or among states and international organizations as well as the relations between or among nationals of different countries, or between a state and a national of another state, including transnational business transactions, multinational taxation, customs, and trade." The term "international law" includes foreign and comparative law. In essence, if one's practice crosses national borders or involves persons or businesses in another country, one may well be practicing "international law."
This fifth year has been a year of further consolidation for the committee. Even though the area of international law is becoming increasingly important in every business, only 26 of the more than 800 attorney members of the International Law Section have taken advantage of the certification option in international law as a valuable enhancement to their professional activities. Haying said this, the 26 certified do comprise a significant portion of Florida's top international practitioners.
The certification hours required of initial applicants have been reduced from 75 hours to 60 hours. The committee continues to seek the assistance of the International Law Section to increase the awareness and response to the program by the section membership.
The certification examination is divided so an examinee can select the essay portion from any one of the five basic areas of international law. This makes it feasible for attorneys who practice in just one area to be able to take the examination.
As Florida's international community has grown, the number of attorneys practicing international law has increased as well. Certification is a practical means to acknowledge expertise and market this specialized ability to clients in need of international advice and assistance.
I express my sincere gratitude to our past chair, Bob Hendry, and to our excellent "scribe," Professor Pam Seay, for her written contributions to our effort. As in the past, we received invaluable help and assistance from the experience and dedication of our staff liaison, Carol Vaught. I also thank all members for their outstanding service and dedication.
JOHN C. BIERLEY, Chair
Judicial Administration, Selection and Tenure
The Judicial Administration, Selection and Tenure Committee deals with a wide range of matters all of which have a potential impact upon the judiciary. Prior to each legislative session, the committee reviews all legislative bills pertinent to the judiciary that have been prefiled and, where appropriate, makes recommendations to the Board of Governors.
This year's committee work began following the 2002 legislative session. Fortunately, the 2002 session was relatively uneventful compared to the previous year when judicial independence and The Florida Bar were the subject of considerable legislative interest. Major issues impacting the judiciary in the 2003 session primarily involved funding. Adequate appropriations and maintenance of essential and necessary judicial services will undoubtedly present major challenges for the Bar and judiciary in the next five years. The committees activities included the following:
Merit Retention Elections: The committee was charged with studying public education efforts regarding merit retention. The committee evaluated the Bar's role in educating the public on the qualifications and performance of judges subject to merit retention and considered methods for improvement. In so doing, the committee reviewed several videotapes prepared by the Bar regarding merit retention elections and made recommendations as to their content. Defeat of The Florida Bar supported ballot language regarding merit retention was reviewed and recommendations for improving any future ballot language were made. The committee agreed that the Public Education in Merit Retention Elections subcommittee should draft new language as a substitute for the previous ballot language for use in any future solicitation of signatures for a local option.
Evaluation of Judges: The committee was charged with reviewing programs for evaluating judges subject to merit retention and consideration of changes that might be necessary to effect a fair and impartial evaluation. Various other state programs were reviewed, which provided differing methods for collecting information regarding judicial performance and making recommendations and evaluations for consideration by the public. It was ultimately determined that further consideration best fell within the purview of the Bar Standing Committee on Judicial Evaluation.
Public / Judiciary Relations: A primary goal of the JAST Committee, as well as the Committee on Judicial Evaluation, is to identify means and methods for improving the public's knowledge and understanding of the judiciary. An informed public is better able to determine whether each member of the judiciary is competently serving the public trust and the education process ensures greater accountability without sacrificing the judicial independence that is a cornerstone of our system of government. The committee remains committed to obtaining and retaining qualified judges. In an effort to do so, the committee will continue to support appropriate increases in judicial benefits and compensation as a means of recruiting and retaining the highest quality personnel in our judiciary.
Recognition of Service: The committee recognized longstanding members who have been affected by the Bar's term limit policy and thanked them for their commitment to committee service. They are: Judge Peter Blanc, chair; Monterey Campbell, Marcos Jimenez, Judge Mike Jones, Carl Pennington, Judge Robert Shevin, and Grey Squires. Also recognized was Vicki Brand, committee staff liaison, who has been reassigned after serving the committee for 15 years. Jennifer Krell Davis was introduced as the new staff liaison.
JAST will continue to provide guidance and leadership toward the improvement of the administration of justice and will strive to help maintain the integrity and independence of the judiciary for the citizens of Florida.
W.C. GENTRY, Chair
Judicial Evaluation Committee
The Judicial Evaluation Committee has come a long way since its beginning. An appellate and trial court confidential evaluation form became available in January 1998. Since then, the committee has distributed over 16,000 confidential evaluation forms. Also, the Florida Supreme Court is supporting and participating in the program 100 percent.
The committee has been working diligently on increasing participation in the evaluation program. Participation levels have fallen. One explanation is that the attorneys have already voiced their complaints and the judges have taken measures to correct them.
However, to improve participation the committee has developed "Talking Points for Meeting with Judges and Groups of Judges" as well as appointing three subcommittees to work on increasing participation levels. This has been a year of research by the committee members working on various subcommittees in order to boost participation.
After receiving approval of "Talking Points for Meetings with Judges and Groups of Judges" at the June 20, 2002 meeting, talking points and a handout were put together and distributed to committee members. The talking points stress an independent judiciary, that the program is not a duplicate of local bar association polls, that participation varies dramatically by circuit, how the committee is trying to increase participation, and how to obtain feedback from the judges.
"If the judiciary does not participate in the confidential plan, it is possible that it will be replaced with a procedure which is not confidential," according to then Chief Justice Wells in his March 22, 2001, letter to Florida's judges. The handouts left for the judges contain: 1) a letter from Chief Justice Wells supporting participation in the program; 2) copies of the trial court and appellate court evaluation form; 3) results of a poll of judges regarding improving the program; 4) a Florida Bar News article (March 15, 2001) informing about the program; 5) a copy of an "Open Letter to Florida's Attorneys" that ran in the April 15, 2002 News telling attorneys how they can participate on their own in the program; and 6) a copy of the last annual report.
The first subcommittee, the Litigators Subcommittee, was formed to prepare a letter to litigators giving them information about the evaluation program and telling them how they can participate and why they should participate.
The Administrative Order Subcommittee (second subcommittee) was formed for the purpose of drafting an administrative order that will increase participation in the evaluation program.
The third subcommittee, the Distribution Subcommittee, was formed to find out if judicial evaluation forms can be kept in various areas in the courthouse so lawyers can have easy access to them.
Another aspect of the committee is making a Model Judicial Poll available to local bar associations. After revising the Bar's Model Judicial Poll in 2001, the committee has received numerous requests for information about the Model Judicial Poll.
The first bar association to use the new poll was the Volusia County Bar Association. Thirty-three judges were listed on the polling form and it was sent to all Florida Bar members in good standing in Volusia County. The results included individual results for each judge as well as a comparison of all judges listed on the poll.
Broward County Bar Association asked for and received approval from the committee to use the committee's previous poll on a one-time basis due to lack of time between getting the poll out and the election date. The Broward County Bar Association poll included 100 judges, general masters, and candidates for court. The results were broken down to circuit court, county court, general masters, and judicial candidates, and each judge was listed by how well he or she did.
The committee received much praise on both of these polls.
The committee also oversaw the merit retention program for the Supreme Court and the five district courts of appeal. All the justices and judges up for merit retention were retained.
JUDGE MARGUERITE H. DAVIS, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
The Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee has had an active year, and concentrated its efforts on updating the JNC Handbook, conducting the annual training seminar for new and experienced commissioners, and scheduling a rules convention to amend the uniform rules of procedure to comply with statutory changes and improve the judicial nominating process.
* JNC Handbook. One of our subcommittees undertook the responsibility of updating all sections of the JNC Handbook, revising sample letters and drafting new sections on the role of the JNC chairs, and the ethical responsibilities of commissioners. The governor's office printed and mailed out the handbooks to all commissioners.
* JNC Training. This year's program was organized and led by our two vice chairs, Judge Mark Wolfe and Richard Doran. The training seminar was held in Tallahassee on October 8, 2002, and included presentations by the governor, the chief justice, the governor's general counsel, and the general counsel to the state ethics commission. Committee members participated in panel discussions concerning: 1) the court system and history of the JNC process; 2) the JNC process and how it works; 3) interviewing techniques; 4) deliberations/voting issues; 5) suggested changes to the uniform rules of procedure; and 6) ethical considerations, with a wrap-up session providing time for questions and answers. Topics of discussion included how to investigate applicants; how to deal with negative information; how to deal with conflicts; maintaining appropriate distance between applicants and commissioners; and maintaining the integrity of the process.
* Revisions to the uniform rules. Our committee has scheduled a rules convention for June 2003. At that time, commissioners will be asked to adopt revisions necessary to bring the rules into compliance with recent statutory changes. In addition, commissioners will be given the opportunity to consider and discuss additional revisions to the uniform rules of procedure concerning such issues as voting procedures, conflicts of interest, deliberations, and confidentiality.
The committee continues to work cooperatively and collaboratively with the governor's office to increase the diversity of judicial applicants and to improve the judicial nominating process. The Bar is grateful for these our committee members who offer their experience and expertise toward the betterment of the nominating process.
CAROL ANN LICKO, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
This was the third year since the area of labor and employment law was approved for certification by the Florida Supreme Court on March 23, 2000. In the first two years, 220 people applied to become board certified in this area. Of those, 153 were approved. Ninety-one of these attorneys were "grandfathered" in by virtue of examination exemptions appearing in Rules 6-3.2 and 6-23.3(g), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
This year, there were 43 applicants. Of those, 15 were seeking exemption from the examination. Of 27 applicants deemed eligible for the examination, 21 sat for the examination on March 7. As of this writing, the committee had not completed the grading of examinations and final application approvals.
With fewer applicants this year, the committee devoted its energies to further improving the quality of the examination, particularly the essay portions. The committee held seven days of meetings, in addition to the scores of hours each committee member spent outside these formal sessions, drafting examination questions. The committee took pains to ensure that the examination was administered and graded fairly.
Mindful of the Florida Supreme Court's comments in approving certification for labor and employment law, the committee designed the examination to ensure competence in both labor and employment law. The examination tested the applicants' knowledge of a broad spectrum of federal and state laws and principles governing the employment relationship, as well as the ability to apply those laws and principles.
The committee is indebted to Kate Wasson, certification specialist, for her dedication and hard work and Dawna Bicknell, director, legal specialization and education, for her leadership and guidance. The chair is indebted to its members for their tireless efforts during this past year.
RICHARD C. MCCREA, JR., Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee continues to promote and enhance the cooperative efforts of attorneys, judges, educators, and law enforcement personnel in teaching students from kindergarten through 12th grade respect for the legal system and for people and property. The committee has a goal of helping to educate future leaders about the functions of our federal, state, and local governments, and their rights and responsibilities within these systems.
Members of the committee have continued to work closely with the Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA) through various activities. For instance, members of the committee assisted FLREA with Law Week by coordinating student activities and classroom presentations with local bar associations. Committee members also served as judges and coaches for FLREA student competitions, including the "We the People ... the Citizen and the Constitution" mock congressional hearing, held in January at the University of Central Florida in Orlando; the high school mock trial state finals, held in Orlando in March; and the 2003 appellate brief writing competition, a moot court competition with finals held in Tallahassee during Law Week. Committee members will also participate in the National Mock Trial Competition in Orlando in May 2004.
The committee revised the "Legal Guide for New Adults," which was printed with funding from The Florida Bar Foundation and distributed to high school seniors. The pamphlet explains basic laws, focusing on the rights and responsibilities upon becoming an adult. Distributed in both English and Spanish, this 24-page pamphlet covers a variety of topics, including landlord-tenant rights, contracts, criminal charges, driving, credit, and the court system. New efforts have been made to distribute the pamphlets to exceptional education classes.
The committee met three times this year, with an average attendance of 12 very active members. At some of these meetings, representatives from FLREA demonstrated new and exciting classroom activities that could be used for future presentations.
In mid-February, coordination of this committee transferred from the programs department of The Florida Bar to the public information and Bar services department, due to the cooperative relationship between The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau and the Law Related Education Committee. We look forward to a productive association.
Future goals include promoting public education regarding the legal system and the importance of an independent judiciary through greater participation by local attorneys and judges in classroom presentations and activities.
SONYA HARRELL HOENER, Chair
Lawyer Referral Service
The Lawyer Referral Service Committee had a very active and productive year. The committee staff worked with the staff of the Bar's information systems department in developing the service online on the Internet, and developing online LRS membership application and reporting features for panel members.
Establishing the service online will help decrease the traffic on the LRS telephone lines and will be another vehicle for making referrals. The online service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will make the service accessible to the public anytime of the day or night. The online membership application and reporting features will make it easier for lawyers to join the service, and will enable them to update their areas of law and file reports at the click of a mouse. This will help decrease postage costs and keep records up-to-date.
In 2002, the service experienced an outstanding year in terms of both referrals and revenues. The staff made over 135,700 referrals and received over $554,000 in revenue. The 135,700 referrals were the most referrals made since the service was established in 1972. The top five areas of law referred were family law (24,499), labor law (8,819), consumer law (7,225), personal injury (6,942), and real estate (6,467). The top tire counties from which referrals were made were Dade (33,830), Lee (10,793), Volusia (8,773), Polk (8,572), and Marion (7,796).
At the Bar's General Meeting in Tampa, the committee drafted a new rule concerning the prohibition of referring LRS cases to nonpanel members. The rule was approved by the committee and took effect immediately. The committee also worked on developing a zero tolerance discipline policy as a criteria for membership and will vote on the policy at its June meeting.
In July 2002, the Bar hired an advertising agency to develop a billboard campaign for the service. Billboards were placed on the interstate and major roadways in the most populous counties served by the service. The campaign was very successful and it increased public awareness.
The committee and the Board of Governors approved a request from the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service to take over the coverage of Okaloosa and Walton counties. The Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association began making referrals in those counties in May.
The committee continues to strive to create public awareness of the service through Yellow Pages advertising and news releases, and membership awareness via the Bar News, Journal, and The Florida Bar Web site.
At the Annual Meeting in June, the committee will make plans and discuss its goals and objectives for the 2003-04 Bar year.
BARRY A. STEIN, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
In this, the 18th year of the Marital and Family Law Certification specialty, the committee dealt with the typical work load of an average year as well as several extraordinary issues demanding appreciable time and effort.
Perhaps the primary issue facing the committee through this year was the examination itself. Over the past several years, a question bank had been developed and was used for the purpose of crafting each year's examination. In order to ensure that the examination was not repetitive, this year's committee redrafteding the entire exam to create a completely new one and to avoid the inclusion of questions that may have been used in previous years, whether essay questions, short answer questions, or true/false questions. Accordingly, beginning with assignments in the fall of 2002, the committee drafted this year's entire exam, which was then incorporated into the certification exam given in March 2003. The committee graded the exam in April 2003 and provided the results to the certification division.
The year 2003 was particularly important for other reasons as well. The certification division has devoted significant attention this year to marketing certification. Those marketing efforts included devoting the April 2003 issue of the Bar Journal to an explanation of the certification and specialization process and the great benefits of certification. As a part of that process, the chair of the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee wrote an article regarding marital and family law certification. The article details and reviews the history of marital and family law board certification in Florida, its historical background, and its continued relevance and importance through the new millennium. We have every reason to believe that the articles and columns in this issue will enhance the general certification process and certification division, and particularly the viability and importance of the marital and family law certification program.
For the 2003 examination, there were 28 approvals. Twenty-four lawyers took the examination. In 2002, five of 28 lawyers passed the examination, as compared to 11 who passed the 2001 examination. As noted, however, in the historical summary of marital and family law certification, while the pass rate for the marital and family law certification has varied substantially through the years, the average pass for the time period 1985 through 2002--the entire time that marital and family law certification has been offered as a specialty--is 59 percent.
In addition to the extraordinary duties performed by the committee, it continued its normal and recurring tasks of review of initial and recertification applications, preparation and monitoring of the exam in March 2003, and grading the examination in Key West over a two-day period in early April.
It would be remiss of this chair not to thank the hardworking members of our committee. Additionally, the assistance of our Bar certification specialist, Pausha Pendarvis, has been tremendous this year, her first year, and the committee's success would not be what it is without her great assistance.
I believe I speak for the entire committee by representing that the marital and family law certification specialty is a vital part of the certification division.
DAVID L. MANZ, Chair
Media and Communications Law
The Media and Communications Law Committee continues to provide Bar members a forum for sharing information about the law applicable to free speech and communications, and to promote better understanding between The Florida Bar and the news media.
As was the case last year, the aftermath of September 11, 2001, brought the committee's mission and programs into sharper focus, especially its education and advocacy efforts directed to open government, privacy rights, and legal and ethical issues surrounding press freedom. The committee continued its efforts to partner with like-minded groups this year, with the goal of expanding existing programs and potential audiences.
As part of this effort, the committee joined with the First Amendment Foundation of Florida to present the 2002 Sunshine Seminars. This series of full-day programs was held in eight cities (Jacksonville, Panama City, Crystal River, Lakeland, Naples, Stuart, Miami, and Tallahassee) during September and October. The committee presented sessions titled "News Reporters as Witnesses" and "Newsgathering Do's and Don'ts." The FAF presented information about the sunshine law. Local committee members participated in each seminar using materials prepared by David Snyder, chair of the seminars. The committee participated in the sunshine seminars as an alternative to the annual Media-Law Conference in 2003. The committee plans to participate in the 2003 Sunshine Seminars and to hold a Media-Law Conference in 2004.
The 2003 Florida Bar media awards are currently being judged and will be presented to the winning organizations prior to the end of the fiscal year. In its 48th year, the awards recognize news media that have made a significant effort to inform the public about the delivery or quality of justice. Co-chairs of the 2003 program are Laura Jacobs and Annette Escobar.
Another key program of the committee, the Reporter's Workshop, was held in December at The Hilton St. Petersburg. Twenty-four reporters--five broadcast and 19 print journalists--attended the 13th Annual Reporter's Workshop. Workshop co-chairs were Judith Mercier and Rachel Fugate. Mercier and Fugate recruited a group of 26 highly diverse, experienced panelists and speakers for the two-day workshop. Two of the speakers were faculty members of the Poynter Institute. Two sessions and a reception were held at Poynter.
On June 27 at The Florida Bar Annual Meeting, Tom Julin will convene an impressive panel of judges, attorneys, and law professors to discuss the U. S. Supreme Court's most recent First Amendment decisions. Ed Mullins serves as editor of the Reporter's Handbook and Annette Escobar serves as assistant editor.
The committee would like to thank also Jairo Lanao for serving diligently his second consecutive year as committee vice chair. Also, we express our profound thanks to Christi Cao of the public information and Bar services office for her hard work and tireless assistance throughout the year.
ROBERT MICHAEL DEES, Chair
Despite going into a very rough year marked with the reality of terrorism and ending with the reality of our country going to war, the Military Affairs Committee has persevered. Its focus is two-fold: first, to gather and disseminate information, share expertise, and advise the members of The Florida Bar on all matters relating to the practice of military law in Florida; and, second, to serve as the link between The Florida Bar and the active duty, reserve, National Guard, and retired military attorneys within Florida. In support of this mission, the committee facilitates legal assistance programs for service personnel, retired members, and their dependents. Additionally, the committee continues to promote professional development of military attorneys and fosters understanding and cooperation between The Florida Bar and the military legal community.
The committee sponsors an annual Military Law and Legal Assistance Symposium. In the past, the symposium was held in conjunction with The Florida Bar's Midyear Meeting. Since 2001, the committee has opted to host the symposium at a military base. The co-hosting military branch rotates between the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The symposium includes a full program of CLE topics featuring distinguished speakers. The program exists to meet the challenges of providing first-rate legal services to military families in Florida and to give special attention to the needs of military lawyers new to the state. The goal is to bring civilian and military lawyers together to promote cooperation and exchange of information and resources. The highlighted event of the annual symposium is the presentation of the Clayton B. Burton Award of Excellence. This award was established in 1990 to be presented to those who demonstrate character and leadership promoting the quality of legal services furnished to military personnel serving in Florida. This year, the symposium was scheduled for March 8 in St. Augustine. Many of our committee members and attendees were deployed, and despite our best efforts and intentions, the 2003 symposium was reluctantly canceled. Eleven days later on March 19, the U.S. went to war with Iraq. The committee is optimistic that there will be a quick resolution to the war and preparations are being made to reschedule the symposium.
The Military Affairs Committee continues its ongoing broad analysis of the apparent present and future legal needs of the military community in Florida. The goal of this committee is to develop new programs and revise and refine current programs to ensure that the committee continues to fulfill its mission. The long range subcommittee continues to reinforce these goals. The committee would like to express its appreciation to Colonel Hal Youmans and Captain Kevin Flood for their hard work in the long range planning efforts.
This year the committee revised its Operation Stand-By Directory. This biennial directory provides the military lawyer stationed in Florida with names, addresses, and telephone numbers of Florida Bar members who have volunteered to respond to their military counterparts in regard to problems or challenges related to local law in Florida. The committee also sponsors another project, Operation Consumer Protection. This project is a series of consumer awareness tapes to assist the public in areas of small claims, Florida's lemon law, consumer law, and landlord/tenant law. These four programs are sponsored by the Military Affairs Committee, the Broward County State Attorney's Office, and Continental Cablevision. Moreover, the committee manages the Operation Take One program, which allows the committee to provide informational pamphlets on topics of law printed by The Florida Bar to military installations, VA hospitals/clinics and centers.
The committee continues its work to amend Ch. 18 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and is seeking to improve the certification process for military attorneys. There is a strong move to amend Title 10 of the United States Code, and the committee is working on revisions to [section] 1044 to enumerate duties of a legal assistance attorney to create a safe harbor for multijurisdictional practice.
Staying in touch with our mission to address present and future legal needs of the military community in Florida, the committee will continue to sponsor the pro bono assistance program. The program was established to provide pro bono assistance to active duty military, reserve military, and National Guard members who were being mobilized after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Since the availability of military assistance in our state is so extensive, there have only been a few times the pro bono volunteers were used. However, this could change if the war with Iraq is prolonged. In closing, the entire Military Affairs Committee would like to express our appreciation to Jennifer Wilson for her hard work and commitment.
KEVIN C. AMBLER, Chair
In January, the Probate Rules Committee submitted its two-year cycle report to the Florida Supreme Court. The majority of the proposed amendments to the rules are necessary to provide procedures to implement extensive revisions to th Probate Code (Chapters 731, 732, 733, 734, and 735) that became effective January 1, 2002. The revisions include a substantial rewrite of the rule addressing curators, a new rule addressing the inventory of a safe deposit box, a new rule for proceeding to determine the family allowance, a substantial rewrite of the rule addressing the resignation of the personal representative, and a new rule for voluntary guardinaships.
The committee continues to review the rules for any changes necessary to implement the recent Probate Code revisions.
BRIAN J. FELCOSKI, Chair
The Professional Ethics Committee is responsible for providing guidance to Bar members concerning professional ethics questions. The PEC issues formal advisory ethics opinions that are published in a book entitled Professional Ethics of The Florida Bar. The formal opinions may also be accessed through the Bar's Web site at www.flabar.org. The PEC also provides informational packets and quarterly Ethics Updates on-line. The PEC reviews informal written opinions issued by staff counsel and reconsiders them sua sponte as deemed appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of the informal staff opinion. In addition, the PEC sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The PEC was busy during the past year, meeting four times and considering several formal opinions. The PEC is staffed by the Bar's ethics department. The attorneys on staff research and draft informal staff opinions and maintain the toll-free ethics hotline for Bar members.
The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which staff issue informal oral and written opinions and by which the PEC issues formal opinions. The PEC may issue formal opinions upon review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, the Board of Governors may request that the PEC issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to a particular set of facts. Before issuing any proposed formal opinion, the PEC will publish a notice of intent to consider issuing an opinion in The Florida Bar News stating the issue to be addressed and the time and place for the PEC's consideration of the matter. The notice will advise how interested Bar members may comment on the request. The PEC values the input provided by such comments and encourages members to comment on proposed ethics opinions. The procedures are available on The Florida Bar's Web site at www.flabar.org.
The PEC issued Opinion 02-3 discussing conflict of interest concerns presented when an attorney represents both a driver and passenger involved in a car accident against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. The opinion addresses several different factual scenarios, including those in which there is no liability on the part of the driver-client, to those involving at least some fault on the part of the driver-client, and those in which the clients are related, yet there may be some fault on the part of the driver-client. The committee concluded that each situation an attorney faces when asked to represent both a driver and a passenger must be looked at in light of the case's particular facts when determining whether a conflict of interest is present and whether any such conflict may be waived by the affected clients.
The Professional Ethics Committee has been requested by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar to address questions of significance to Florida Bar members. The committee expects to discuss advisory ethics opinions at annual meeting on the following issues: 1) what obligations lawyers have toward third parties regarding funds in the attorney's trust account concerning letters of protection to third parties, assignments of interests to third parties by clients, and statutory liens of third parties; 2) whether a lawyer can give a second opinion on a case to a person who is represented by counsel; and 3) whether a lawyer can ask a client who is a seller of real property to sign an indemnity agreement before releasing funds held by the lawyer as a deposit on the purchase where the lawyer is also acting as escrow agent. The PEC is also considering issuing opinions at the request of Bar members concerning ancillary consulting businesses of lawyers, whether lawyers may include in their retainer agreements mandatory arbitration clauses for malpractice and fee disputes, and whether a lawyer hired by an insurance company to defend an insured in an employment discrimination case is required to provide the client with the Statement of Insured Clients' Rights.
The Professional Ethics Committee's popular yearly CLE program addresses ethics issues of great significance to Bar members. The PEC again will sponsor a Master's Seminar on Ethics at the 2003 Annual Meeting entitled Ethics and Attorneys' Fees. Topics to be discussed at the seminar are scheduled to include preserving and collecting attorneys' fees. The speakers will include Professional Ethics Committee members Don Beverly and Andrew Berman, and attorneys Bill Wagner and John A. Weiss. The seminar is expected to provide two hours of ethics CLE credit.
The ethics opinion process continues to rate as the most desirable service on membership surveys. The PEC is committed to providing ethics guidance to Bar members. The PEC would like to thank the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. The PEC would like to recognize and congratulate staff for having another busy year on the Ethics Hotline as staff handled 18,525 hotline calls during the fiscal year 2002 in addition to providing 782 written staff opinions.
TIMOTHY P. CHINARIS, Chair
The 11th year of the Standing Committee on Professionalism has been an active and productive one as the committee has continued its partnership with the Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism and has shared resources, ideas, and energy.
Another combined effort of the commission and committee is the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award, created in 2001 in honor of William Hoeveler, U.S. District Court judge, and the first recipient of the award, which is presented annually at The Florida Bar's Annual Meeting. The award recognizes a distinguished jurist who exemplifies the attributes of professionalism. The 2003 winner of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award is Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges of the U.S District Court, Middle District.
The committee also received an array of timely and diverse applications for the annual professionalism award given to an outstanding project of a local bar association or similar entity. The winner will be announced at the Judicial Luncheon during the Annual Meeting of The Florida Bar in June.
In addition to working on the projects and activities of the commission, committee members devoted themselves to work on one of six committee projects which included the historical video series, the Mentor Assistance Professionalism Program (MAPP), the annual professionalism award, the master's seminar at the annual meeting, and the student essay award.
Also, in collaboration with the Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism, members of our committee have devoted their efforts and continued dedication on diversity issues through the commission's diversity subcommittee. The diversity subcommittee's Train the Trainer program has taught Bar members around the state how to effectively facilitate seminars focusing on diversity issues.
This year, additional measures to further the professionalism effort have included a faculty development seminar training in how to moderate a professionalism seminar and develop one's own course curriculum. With this program, faculty resources will be available to assist with the Young Lawyers' Practice with Professionalism program along with various professionalism programs around the state. As of April 1, 2003, four faculty development workshops have been held, training over 41 volunteer new faculty members to assist in the professionalism movement.
The student essay award is beginning its third year. The second recipient was Steven C. Morgan, a third-year student at Stetson College of Law, whose essay was "Professionalism in Times of National Crisis." He was presented with a $1,000 award by past commission chair, Justice Major B. Harding. A traveling trophy, The Lion of Justice, an original sculpture by renowned artist Hugh Nicholson, is on display at Stetson College of Law for the second year in a row.
The historical video series adds insightful dialogue to our video collection. A recent video interview of Herman Russomanno, past president of The Florida Bar, is available. Also, a "Montage of Justices"--a compilation of excerpts from the interviews of Justices Harding, Pariente, Shaw, Quince, and Anstead will also be available.
The mentor program has progressed further during its third year, developing new ways to inspire mentors and their proteges. One such program recently designed is e-mentoring--pairing over 250 mentors with proteges via the Internet. Over 130 mentor names have been collected, and the pairing process will begin within the next few months.
We encourage any reader to contact The Florida Bar's Center for Professionalism for any resources, seminars, of videos when incorporating professionalism efforts into your workplace, local bar associations, or other entities supporting professionalism.
MICHAEL R. JOSEPHS, Chair
Quality of Life and Career
The mission of the Quality of Life and Career Committee includes increasing awareness within the legal profession of what it takes to have an enjoyable and sustainable career. The QLCC addresses both predictable challenges to quality of life and career, and the many opportunities we have to enhance our sense of well-being. In this context, the QLCC's orientation is both one of problem solving and problem prevention.
Historically the QLCC has presented nationally recognized authorities on quality of life issues at the Bar's Annual Meeting. The committee began this past year by sponsoring a presentation by John McShane, entitled The Quality of Your Life: How it Impacts You and Your Profession. McShane is a noted coach, lecturer, and practicing attorney from Dallas, Texas, and his presentation was well received.
The committee maintained its Internet presence on its Web site located at www.fla-lap.org/qlsm. The Web site provides a detailed committee mission statement, a paper prepared by committee members entitled Suggested Principles for Satisfied Lawyer, a history of the committee, and links to aid in stress management.
A year-long joint project with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., and The Florida Bar to provide confidential, anonymous online and telephone screening for depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse, and eating disorders was concluded on December 31, 2002. The screening could be accessed through the QLCC's Web site.
The committee continues to participate in joint presentations with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., at all Practicing With Professionalism seminars. A one-hour seminar on Attorney Satisfaction, Addiction, and Distress is given to all attendees, and evaluations for the presentation are consistently among the highest for the entire two-day series.
In addition, the committee sponsors a regular column in The Florida Bar News entitled "Stresslines." The QLCC has a reserve of excellent articles available for publication with the possibility to publish the assembled articles as a collection. The chair would like to thank Mr. Louis A. Bianchi for his excellent work as chair of the "Stresslines" subcommittee.
Considerable attention was devoted this year to developing an effective approach to increasing general awareness of key quality of life issues. A consensus emerged that for the next year the committee's educational efforts should be directed at the grass roots level. The committee is in the process of contacting local bar associations to arrange ongoing CLE presentations on a variety of quality of life topics including mental disorders, trauma, and emotional intelligence.
The committee will begin the 2003-04 year by sponsoring a seminar featuring Dr. Merlin Langley, How To Recognize Trauma in Your Clients and in Yourself. Dr. Langley is a Harvard trained psychologist and trauma expert who currently teaches in FAMU's School of Social Work. His presentation is the initial component of a two-year project on trauma and the law.
PATRICK K. WIGGINS, Chair
Real Estate Certification
This has been an active year for the committee which was first established in 1987 at the inception of the real estate certification program. There are currently 409 certified real estate lawyers in The Florida Bar. In 2002, 113 individuals were recertified from a pool of 121 that were eligible from the group certified initially in 1987, 1992, and 1997. Sixty-five individuals are eligible for recertification in 2003 from groups first certified in 1988, 1993, and 1998.
The 2003 exam was revised consistent with the Board of Legal Specialization and Education standards to reduce the time for its administration from eight hours to six hours. In this process the number of multiple choice questions was reduced from 60 to 45, and the number of required essays was reduced from four to three. Completion and preparation of HUD-1 closing statement remains a requirement. All substantive areas remain subject to examination.
In 2002, 16 individuals received initial certification in a field of 19 applicants. Sixteen individuals made application to sit for the 2003 examination. At the time this column was prepared, 14 had been approved and two were still pending.
In addition to its usual function of reviewing and approving applicants and preparing and grading the certification examination, the committee was also engaged in an effort to make revisions to the rule governing certification. This has been an on-going project. A purpose of the proposed changes is to require that applicants seeking certification in real estate demonstrate that their practice of real estate law has application to Florida issues and Florida transactions, as distinct from other jurisdictions. The revisions are pending until the Board of Legal Specialization and Education and the Board of Governors approves them.
The committee submitted an article for The Florida Bar April Journal, explaining the benefits of attaining certification in the real estate area. The committee believes that there are many well qualified real estate attorneys in Florida who should seek certification as a measure of professional attainment that will help enhance the program. The committee encourages all such persons to do so.
Each of the committee members and staff liaison, Carol Vaught, contributed significant time, energy, and thought to the operation and administration of the Real Estate Certification Committee and deserve thanks for their individual and collective efforts.
RICHARD C. GRANT, Chair
Rules of Judicial Administration
The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee has had another busy year. In August, we responded to a request by the Supreme Court to consider amendments to the Rules of Judicial Administration consistent with proposals made by the Family Court Steering Committee (In re Report of Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518, 532-33 (Fla. 2001)), recommending that no such amendments be adopted. This was followed in October by a response to a request by the court for the committee's views on a proposed set of rules for certification and regulation of court interpreters. In that response, the committee noted that the topic addressed by the proposed rules was beyond the scope of its charge and the area of its expertise. The committee noted, further, that it did not oppose the proposed rules, and that it stood ready to present, within the Rules of Judicial Administration, a rule designed to implement those rules if adopted by the court.
Also in the fall, the committee began preparing its first biennial report to the Supreme Court regarding proposed rule changes, pursuant to the recently amended Rule of Judicial Administration 2.130. That report was filed with the court on January 23, 2003. See Re Amendments to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Case No. SC03-105. The report proposes amendments to a number of rules, including Rule 2.060(b), (h), (I) and (j); Rule 2.070(e); Rule 2.071(c) and (d); Rule 2.085(e); Rule 2.160(c) and (e); and Rule 2.170(a), (b), (c) and appendix.
The coming year also promises to be a busy one. Timing difficulties created by the recent amendments to Rule 2.130 suggest the need to revisit that rule. In addition, the Supreme Court has requested the committee to consider amendments to Rule 2.051(d), which would provide additional guidance to members of the judiciary and of the public regarding resolution of disputes concerning access to judicial records. See Media Gen. Convergence, Inc. v. Chief Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, 28 Fla. L. Weekly S129, S133 (Fla. Feb. 13, 2003). The committee has also been asked by the court to consider any recommendations that might be made by a joint committee made up of members of the Appellate Court Rules, the Civil Procedure, and the Criminal Procedure Rules committees for the purpose of determining whether it is desirable to have consistency regarding rules that specify how time is computed when papers must be served or filed.
All of the committee's members have been of considerable assistance during the past year. However, the subcommittee chairs deserve particular thanks for their work. They are Judge Shelley Kravitz, Judge Manuel Menendez, Judge Marguerite Davis, Paul Regensdorf, and Judge Morris Silberman. The committee expresses special gratitude to Judge Menendez and Mr. Regensdorf, both of whom will be forced to leave because of term limits. Their contributions will be missed. Finally, the committee thanks Bar staff liaison Craig Shaw for his continued good work.
JUDGE PETER D. WEBSTER, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The Small Claims Rules Committee has worked actively and has been productive this past year. The area of small claims affects the lives of many people and as such the committee looks forward to receiving input from both attorneys and members of the judiciary. The end of the last two-year cycle resulted in proposals for rule changes and additional forms. Rule 7.050 was amended to require an employee who is not an officer of a corporation to have written authorization to represent the corporation during any stage of the court proceeding. This conforms with Rule 7.090(f), which allows a nonlawyer representative to appear on behalf of a party at mediation if the representative has the party's signed written authority to appear and settle without further consultation. In order to conform with this proposed rule change, Form 7.322, the summons/notice to appear for pretrial conference was also amended to provide notice that a corporate representative must be designated in writing.
Rule 7.090 was amended to provide that the initial pretrial conference date set by the clerk is now 50 days from the date of filing the action. This avoids having to reschedule the pretrial conference when service of process is not confirmed on time.
The committee has recently adopted a form to be known as the fact information sheet for a business entity. This will assist attorneys and pro se litigants in the execution portion of their case. The committee also adopted a new form following the procedure of F.S. [section] 539.011(15) to assist owners of stolen property who are seeking to recover their property which was subsequently located in a pawn shop.
During the next few months the committee will finalize several proposals. Additional language will be placed in the summons requiring the written authorization of employees authorized by corporation to appear be brought to the pretrial conference. In many counties, when a pretrial conference is held, the court may refer the case to mediation at the same date and time. A proposal was made to add the following language to the summons: "Mediation may take place at the pretrial conference. Whoever appears for a party must have full authority to settle."
St. Johns and Orange counties expressed an interest in setting up a pilot program adopting the use of an answer form for small claims court. Once completed this will provide valuable information to the judges and attorneys who may wish to pursue adopting an answer form statewide.
SHARON L. ZELLER, Chair
Student Education and Admissions to the Bar
The purpose of the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee is to serve as the liaison between The Florida Bar Board of Governors and Florida's public and private law schools. It also helps to ensure that students are being adequately prepared to engage in the practice of law. The committee additionally monitors and reviews proposed legislation and policies affecting legal education. The committee is concerned with the success of minority scholarship programs and seeks to help institutions in maximizing the benefits of minority programs, which enhance the entry of minorities to the profession. In communicating the concerns of the students, faculty, and administration of Florida's law schools to the Board of Governors, and vice versa, SEABC hopes to forge a mutually beneficial relationship.
In 2002-03, SEABC carried out its mission by continuing its review of several areas of concern. In the past, the committee has visited law schools throughout Florida to keep informed of pertinent issues and concerns. In keeping with the committee's purpose, SEABC visited Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center during the midyear meeting of the Bar. We joined Dean Joseph Harbaugh, faculty members, and staff for lunch and a discussion of Nova's present undertakings. We also received input on our assessment of the civil certification program.
Additional topics of interest to SEABC are bar admission and diversity issues. Over the last few years, we have reviewed several programs around the country geared toward increasing the minority passage rate for state bar examinations. This year, we continued to examine the effectiveness of such programs. The committee also reviewed the discontinuation of many state-supported minority programs previously funded by the legislature. Financial assistance continues to be a barrier for minority law school students. The state-supported Virgil Hawkins Fellowship and the Minority Participation in Legal Education (MPLE) programs were essential components in funding minority student legal education in the past. SEABC continued its dialogue with law schools on addressing this issue, and we will continue to encourage law schools to find alternative funding sources.
This year, the SEABC made a significant technological advance in completing our Web site. Agendas and minutes are posted and readily available. SEABC believes it is important to keep committee members and others informed to hasten progress toward its goals and the fulfillment of its purpose.
Civil certification programs became the main focus of the SEABC in 2002-03. Using the existing criminal certification program as a guide, the committee undertook extensive review of the prospect of creating a civil certification program in Florida. The committee researched Florida's current law governing taw school practice programs, otherwise known as clinics, and the extent to which a law student or law graduate may participate in court proceedings of civil matters. The Florida Supreme Court appointed a task force to make recommendations for proposed changes to Ch. 11 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, which governs student certification. While the Rule 11 task force addresses student certification in the public sector, SEABC seeks to explore student certification in the private sector.
The committee solicits input from law school deans and clinical program instructors and brainstorming on the outlook of a civil certification program in Florida. Information was compiled on such programs in other states, particularly Texas. Compounding issues, such as the inclusion of civil government programs and the possible financial implications to law students, are under review. Additionally, the committee's discussion of using certified interns in private law firms has given rise to the issues of malpractice, supervision, and compensation. Finally, we believe there are many students who could benefit from a more enhanced legal experience in the private law firm setting.
DARYL D. PARKS, Chair
Tax Law Certification
This year commemorates the 20th anniversary of the tax law certification program which was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1983. There ate currently 281 attorneys board certified in tax law, which is about seven percent of all Florida Bar board certified attorneys. According to the most recent post-exam survey, the principal reasons tax lawyers apply for certification are referrals, professional development, credibility, and personal enhancement.
Under the Florida Bar rules, our tax certification plan is administered by the Tax Certification Committee whose members are appointed to three-year terms by the Bar president with the consent of the Board of Governors. The functions of the committee include recommending criteria to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education for the issuance and renewal of certificates, including experience, references, continuing legal education, and examination.
The application filing period for certification as a specialist in tax law is July i through August 31 of each year. Prior to approval to sit for the examination, an applicant must satisfy a five-year practice requirement, demonstrate substantial involvement (at least 500 hours of "substantial and direct participation" in matters involving significant issues of tax law) for each of the preceding three years, complete at least 90 hours of approved tax law credits during the three-year period; and qualify under a peer review process in which attestation is made regarding the applicant's involvement in tax law, character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism.
Board certification in tax is valid for five years. To be recertified for an additional five years, the attorney must continue to be substantially involved in the practice of tax law, complete at least 125 hours of continuing legal education, and receive satisfactory peer review.
The 2003 tax certification examination took place on March 7 in Tampa. Under the current format, the applicant must answer three essay questions. There are two mandatory questions, in the areas of individual income taxation and choice of entity. The third essay question covers a topic selected by the applicants. This year's elective topics were: partnership taxation; federal transfer taxation; corporate taxation; tax penalties and practice and procedure before the IRS; and foreign taxation. The tax law examination passing percentage over the past six years has averaged over 80 percent.
The committee met five times during the 2002-03 cycle, three times in person and twice via conference call. During these meetings, the committee reviewed seven initial applications and 47 recertification applications, and worked on preparation and grading of the examination. Subcommittees met each month to evaluate submissions for continuing education credit.
Discussions during this year among the members of the committee and The Florida Bar Tax Section focused on promotion of tax certification and whether the format of the certification exam should be modified to ensure a fair exam and to attract more applicants for board certification. The committee prepared a written survey of the approximately 2,200 members of the Tax Section regarding alternative exam formats. The information received will provide valuable guidance to the committee in drafting future examinations.
The Tax Law Certification Committee appreciates Professor Bruce A. McGovern, Professor Gail L. Richmond, Richard A. Josepher, James B. Davis, John F. Cooper, Norman D. Kaplan, and Richard Paladino for the time and effort they put forth in the preparation of the 2003 tax law certification examination.
The chair thanks the committee members who unselfishly devoted much effort and many hours of time in providing excellent advice and guidance during the past year. A special note of appreciation goes to Michele Lamar-Acuff for graciously coordinating our efforts and keeping us on schedule.
HARRY S. COLBURN, JR., Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law has had a busy and successful year in dealing with the many issues undertaken by the committee with the goal of protecting the public from unlicensed practitioners and schemes. In addition to the continued work of the committee of reviewing the staff and circuit committee's recommendations on the many cases that come before it, the committee reviewed several requests for direction from the local committee and staff, a request for a formal advisory opinion, and several rule amendments. The committee also worked with the Communications Committee and the Bar's public information department in preparing a pamphlet to better educate the public regarding the unlicensed practice of law. Recent articles in The Florida Bar News, press releases, and media coverage of UPL cases have also increased awareness of our UPL program and the need to protect the public from the harm caused by the unlicensed practice of law.
We sincerely appreciate all the valuable contributions made by our volunteer committee members to assist The Florida Bar who give of their own time to serve the public interest. The local circuit committees continue to handle a full array of investigations, encompassing a wide variety of complaints. We also want to recognize the work and dedication of staff counsel around the state: Lori Holcomb, UPL director, Jeffery Picker, assistant UPL director, and UPL Bar counsels Janet Morgan (Ft. Lauderdale), Loretta O'Keeffe (Tampa), Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando), Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami), and Amanda Wall (Tallahassee), and their excellent support staffs. What follows is a sampling of types of cases being handled.
In addition to handling requests for guidance and formal advisory opinions, the headquarters office in Tallahassee investigates complaints on individuals who are located outside of Florida. In 2002, these included several cases involving a California company that prepared living trusts. The principal of that company agreed not to engage in the unlicensed practice of law.
The Tallahassee branch office covers north Florida from Jacksonville to Pensacola and as far south as Gainesville. There are seven committees in total. During the past year, the Tallahassee branch office had many interesting cases, one of which involved an attorney licensed in Pennsylvania but not licensed in Florida who was operating a law office in Florida. The office continues to investigate complaints against nonlawyer "legal technicians" and individuals offering to assist inmates in parole matters. Litigation has been brought against several individuals and business and injunctions have been issued in all cases. At the time of the writing of this article, we were awaiting Supreme Court action on a case involving indirect criminal contempt.
In 2002-03, the local circuit committees in Tampa, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, and Naples continued to tackle a variety of UPL investigations. Nonlawyers providing immigration services continues to be an area of great public harm. With the downturn in the economy, the committees have seen a rise in nonlawyers performing or attempting to perform foreclosure and bankruptcy services, debt related litigation representation, and judgment recovery services. This year has also brought an increased number of complaints from the judiciary, clerks' offices, and family law intake programs concerning large document preparation companies that are causing harm to the public and taxing county and judicial resources.
During 2002-03, the Miami office obtained permanent injunctions against the unlicensed practice of law against several individuals and/ or businesses. The cases where injunctions were obtained involved immigration, a business handling bankruptcy matters, an out-of-state attorney not properly showing his jurisdictional limitations, and persons holding themselves out as attorneys. Additionally, the office sought indirect criminal contempt against individuals/business who violated an earlier injunction. They are serving probation in the matter. Further, approximately 30 cease and desist affidavits were obtained from individuals/businesses, including six cease and desist affidavits signed by individuals providing services at a church. We were able to obtain restitution for complainants in some cease and desist and injunction cases.
The 11th Judicial Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee continues to investigate immigration unlicensed practice of law cases. Serious offenders have been referred to the Dade County State Attorney's Office. An individual we were investigating was arrested when he engaged in international art fraud while posing to be an attorney. Our investigation assisted the criminal authorities.
The Ft. Lauderdale office continued to investigate companies offering assistance to persons who are defendants in foreclosure proceedings and obtained stipulated injunctions to resolve litigation filed against three of these companies located in the 17th Circuit. In the stipulations, the companies agree to be enjoined from offering legal services such as providing customers with answers or motions in the foreclosure, negotiating with lenders to modify or reinstate the delinquent loan, and inducing the customers to rely upon the company to handle the foreclosure. Civil penalties were included in two of the three stipulations. Other similar cases are under investigation at committee level.
Also, as a result of a 17th Circuit committee investigation, The Florida Bar filed a 10-count petition seeking an injunction against a disbarred New York attorney residing in Florida for holding himself out as an attorney and handling real estate transactions. The respondent has agreed to enter into a stipulated injunction with civil penalties to resolve the matter, and the referee assigned to the case has approved the stipulated injunction. In a case arising out of the 15th Circuit, the Supreme Court of Florida enjoined an out-of-state lawyer residing in Boca Raton from representing clients in securities arbitration in Florida.
The Orlando office covers a wide geographical area with nine committees from the 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 18th, and 19th circuits. The Orlando office had several cases in prosecution this year both for civil injunctive relief and indirect criminal contempt. One case involved two individuals who were representing a trust in litigation. Another involved an individual who continued to practice law and represent a party in court after being enjoined by the Supreme Court of Florida. Several cases against nonlawyer form preparation businesses were investigated and prosecuted.
It continues to be a pleasure to work with public members and lawyers who contribute their time in protecting the public through their efforts.
DONALD A. WICH, JR., Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee's (VBLC) primary purpose is to serve as a liaison between The Florida Bar and voluntary bars throughout the state. While some voluntary bars in Florida have staff support and maintain offices, many smaller bars rely solely on voluntary leadership. Records maintained at The Florida Bar include current contact and program information from more than 180 voluntary bar associations.
The 2002-2003 VBLC, charged with improving communication between the local bar associations and The Florida Bar, is fortunate to have the representation of 20 local bar associations. Additionally, the committee coordinates programs of The Florida Bar involving voluntary bar associations, serves as a clearinghouse for voluntary bar association projects, advises the Public Information and Bar Services Department regarding public relations needs of the voluntary bars and advise the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bars and individual members.
The Florida Bar leadership is continually supportive of voluntary bar activities. During his term, Florida Bar President Tod Aronovitz visited 16 local bar associations throughout the state to encourage members of the associations to spread the goods news about the positive work judges and lawyers are doing in their communities. The president also welcomed the input of many voluntary bar associations who attended the 2003 All Bar Conference in January to discuss the progress of the public awareness and education campaign, Dignity in Law.
To assist voluntary bar associations with implementing worthwhile projects, the Bar continues to offer two grant opportunities for voluntary bar associations. Both grant/ underwriting programs offer monetary assistance to voluntary bar associations who qualify. The first program supports projects that promote public education regarding our system of laws, the constitutional separation of powers and the importance of an independent judiciary and bar. Additionally, the second grant/underwriting program supports projects that enhance and improve working relationships between the legal profession and local media.
The committee, along with the Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents and the Florida Council of Bar Executives, sponsored the 2002 Bar Leaders' Conference in July. The conference was held in Jacksonville, a bold move by committee members to move the conference to North Florida. Hosted by the Jacksonville Bar Association, the conference was a resounding success. More than 100 bar leaders and staff received a short course in leadership, association finances, building websites, member recruitment and nurturing its young lawyers. The conference is designed to equip attendees in their respective leadership roles with the right tools to effectively lead an organization. The conference provides an opportunity for all voluntary bars to share ideas and projects ranging from membership retention to revenue development. The program continues to attract smaller, specialty and minority bar associations. In addition to the conference, participants participated in a barbecue dinner with a rhythm and blues band. The dinner was fun-filled and open to the entire family.
The 2003 conference, co-hosted by St. Petersburg Bar, Clearwater Bar and Hillsborough County Bar associations, will be held July 25-26 in St. Petersburg.
The Bar Leaders Handbook is updated annually and distributed to conference participants and association presidents who are unable to attend the conference. An editorial board, comprised of VBLC committee members, has been formed to critically review the workbook's content and design.
All voluntary bar presidents and president-elects are placed on The Florida Bar's Daily News Summary distribution list, which enables bar leaders to receive important communications regarding statewide media coverage and other legal issues in a timely manner. All association officers are listed on The Florida Bar's Web site.
The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee also coordinates publication of the Spotlight Page in The Florida Bar Journal, wherein activities of voluntary bar associations are highlighted. Several bar associations were recognized for their outstanding programs during the Bar Leaders Conference in Jacksonville--Broward County Bar Association, Clearwater Bar Association, Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida, Palm Beach County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and the Palm Beach County Trial Lawyers Association. Each bar association is presented the published article mounted on a walnut plaque.
Additionally, the committee serves as a resource for voluntary bar Law Week chairs. For several years, the ABA field representative for Florida moderates a workshop on building a successful Law Week program at the annual Bar Leaders Conference. The VBLC promotes Law Day activities and publicizes local contact information through an annual press release.
With the full support of The Florida Bar, the VBLC will continue to move forward in serving as a link between the state Bar and the voluntary bar associations and supporting the efforts of the volunteer attorneys throughout the state.
VENE M. HAMILTON, Chair
Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification
The Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification Committee will complete the grading of the 2003 certification examination on June 20, 2003. During the 2002-03 bar year, the Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification Committee met five times with two meetings in Orlando, two in Hollywood, and one in West Palm Beach.
Several major projects were accomplished during the past year. The committee reviewed recertification applications and ultimately approved 85 recertifications. In addition, the committee reviewed applicants to sit for the wills, trusts and estates exam which was held on May 16 in Tampa. The committee has approved 27 applications which is an increase from the 19 individuals who took the examination last year.
During the year, the committee prepared seven essay examination questions for the May 16 examination. In addition, 100 multiple choice questions were prepared. The committee also reviewed the examination process and procedures. During the last several years there has been a low pass rate. Accordingly, the committee has made certain changes. First, the committee revised the instructions to provide more information to the applicant regarding the examination. Second, the committee approved an extra hour for the essay section of the examination. Hopefully, the pass rate will increase.
As a result of the significant contribution of authors Rohan Kelly and Frank Pilotte, the committee prepared a historical and current prospective article regarding wills, trusts and estates for The Florida Bar Journal. This article appeared in the April 2002 edition and described the certification program on a historical and current basis. The first certification exam was given in 1986. The 2003 examination will be the 18th examination.
The committee continues to stress the importance of certification. Being a "board certified" attorney specializing in wills, trusts and estates is gratifying. The certification program allows the public to know that the attorney, through substantial involvement, peer review, continuing legal education, and a comprehensive examination, is well qualified in a speciality. The committee encourages all who ate qualified to apply and take the examination in order that they may become certified.
GENE K. GLASSER, Chair
Workers' Compensation Certification
It seems inevitable that all yearly reports of the Worker's Compensation Board Certification Committee start with the observation that, at the time of the writing of this yearly update, the legislature is in session and major changes in the workers' compensation law are being contemplated, debated and reformulated ... again. However, the focus of the committee continues to be establishing the highest level of professional recognition within this dynamic, challenging and ever-changing field of practice. There are presently 235 board certified attorneys in the area of workers' compensation law. At the beginning of this last term, a concerted effort was made to contact and encourage those attorneys who were members of the Worker's Compensation Section, but who were not yet board certified, to apply for certification. At this writing, 20 attorneys will be sitting for the exam in May to become board certified.
A significant change made this year was to totally rewrite the exam, starting from scratch, with a commitment to making the exam more reflective of everyday practice, focusing on substantive and procedural topics that those who practice regularly in this field would be expected to know. The goal of the committee was to make the exam more relevant while remaining a challenging test of a practitioner's skill. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the members of the committee, I believe we have certainly succeeded.
Changes have also been made in the qualification criteria for both certification and recertification. Additional language was added to the definition of "trials" required for either classification by including a limited number of Rule Nisi hearings. For recertification, an applicant will also able to use a limited number of mediations, wherein the attorney has acted as the mediator, to count as a "substantial equivalent" under the rules. Both of the above changes were made to reflect a more accurate picture of today's practice in workers' compensation.
2003 also represents the 15th year of board certification in this field. A large number of our members achieved certification in that first year and will now be eligible for continued recertification without having to meet the trial requirements. As one of the members of that "rookie class" of 1988, I would like to express my thanks to all the other members of that distinguished group for their contributions to the practice and for the friendship of so many of them.
Finally, the makeup of the committee has changed dramatically over the last year and we have seen a number of truly dedicated and professional people complete their service to the committee, to the profession, and this area of practice. I extend grateful appreciation to past Chair Cory Schnepper, Jimmy Earle, Marilyn Strauss, Donald Harrington, and Jim Smith. I also express my sincere thanks for the work and sacrifice of the members of the present committee and to our staff liaison, Kate Wasson, who makes everything work.
JOHN P. BROOKS, Chair
(1) "Substantial involvement" is further defined in Rule 6-13.3 Minimum Standards (Rules Regulating The Florida Bar).
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|Publication:||Florida Bar Journal|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2003|
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