Ethics and Lawyer Advertising--The authority for the establishment and maintenance of The Florida Bar as a unified bar association is based on the Florida Supreme Court's constitutional authority to regulate the practice of law in Florida. The Rules of Professional Conduct, adopted by the court, provide lawyers with standards of professional practice.
In addition to disseminating the Rules to its members, the Bar assists them in interpreting its provisions by publishing reports of attorney discipline by the Supreme Court or Board of Governors, and featuring periodic ethics guidance in its official publications and on its Web site. The Bar also provides both informal and formal opinions on certain ethical questions posed by its members.
A toll-free ethics hotline was established in 1985 as an exclusive member service, connecting inquiring attorneys directly with ethics counsel at Bar headquarters in Tallahassee. Informal advisory opinions on an attorney's own proposed conduct can be sought by calling (800) 235-8619. Bar members may leave a message for an ethics attorney to return a call within 24 hours by calling (850) 561-5780. Lawyers may also obtain a written opinion or e-mail regarding proposed conduct from the ethics department. The department's e-mail address is email@example.com.
If a written staff opinion is contested or denied, advisory ethics opinions may be requested from the Bar's Professional Ethics Committee. Proposed committee opinions are previewed in The Florida Bar News for lawyer comment and are subject to review by the Board of Governors.
Ethics opinions are also rescinded as necessary to reflect contemporary standards in the practice of law. A current compilation of formal opinions from the Professional Ethics Committee is contained in a three-post binder. This publication, Professional Ethics of The Florida Bar, is available to all members from CLE Publications, (850) 561-5843. The formal opinions are also available on the Bar's Web site at www.FLABAR.org.
The Ethics and Lawyer Advertising Department, as staff to the Standing Committee on Advertising, evaluates and provides advisory opinions on attorney advertisements and direct written communications mailed to prospective clients. The department responds to inquiries and general questions from the membership and the public concerning Rule Subchapter 4-7, governing attorney advertising and solicitation. Information on lawyer advertising can also be found on the Bar's Web site. The department also provides educational programs about attorney advertising.
A Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, published by the Standing Committee, is available on The Florida Bar Web site at www.FLABAR.org.
Admissions--Although misunderstood by the public and many attorneys, The Florida Bar as an organization has no control over attorney admissions. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is the Florida Supreme Court agency charged with ensuring that only qualified persons will be admitted to the practice of law in this state. The 15-member board of lawyer and public members--together with its executive director and staff--investigates the character and fitness of applicants, develops and administers the bar examination for attorney candidates, and submits for Supreme Court approval the names of those qualified for admission to practice. Admission to The Florida Bar is only finally accomplished by action of the Florida Supreme Court.
Persons requesting information on admission to the practice of law in Florida, administration of the bar exam, or other information relating to entering the field of law in Florida should contact the Florida Board of Bar Examiners at 1891 Eider Court, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1750, telephone (850) 487-1292.
Professional Growth--Another responsibility of The Florida Bar is to assist its members in enhancing their professional skills. Toward this objective and the ultimate goal of more effective delivery of legal services, the Bar conducts several programs including ...
Continuing Legal Education--Live Seminars and Programs. The Florida Bar continuing legal education (CLE) provides an ongoing series of educational courses at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels to keep its members up-to-date with the law. Because so many members participate in CLE, it has grown to be the largest single program of The Florida Bar.
Course presentations are produced with the assistance of Bar member volunteers from throughout the state. A variety of programs are provided, ranging from half-day seminars to multiday theme institutes. The Bar annually offers its members some 85 different CLE programs, presented more than 400 times, comprising more than 600 approved credit hours of continuing legal education. CLE courses approved for credit are available at www.FLABAR.org.
Videotape and Audiocassette Programs. Nearly 70 percent of The Florida Bar's live seminars and programs are videotaped or recorded for presentations throughout the state and for subsequent sale to law firms and individual practitioners, in-state and out-of-state. A listing of available titles, format details, policies, and prices may be obtained from the CLE Registrations office or the Bar Web site.
Online Programs. The Florida Bar CLE courses offered online are available any time at Legalspan.com and Taecan.com.
Course Materials Sales. The Florida Bar maintains a limited reserve of printed course materials and speaker outlines produced for live and videotaped CLE presentations, which are available for post-program purchase. Interested members should contact the CLE Registrations office to determine the availability and cost of these items.
CLE Practice Manuals. The Florida Bar publishes a series of practice manuals covering various areas of the law. These publications are extremely useful and convenient in the day-to-day practice of law. Each manual is written by experienced practitioners; staff lawyers carefully edit all material both for substance and to ensure a quick reference in easy-to-read style. Currently, about 60 of these how-to-do-it manuals, handbooks, and practice systems are available for sale. A catalog of the publications appears in this directory issue of the Journal. Updated price lists are published quarterly in the Bar News. Manuals can be ordered by calling 800/533-1637. They are also available through www.lexis.com/bookstore.
Court Rules Pamphlets. The Florida Bar produces separate pamphlet editions of the official court rules and procedures governing various areas of practice. Pamphlets are available through 800/533-1637 or www.lexis.com/ bookstore.
Sections--The Florida Bar includes 21 sections, the Young Lawyers Division and Out-of-State Practitioners Division comprising thousands of attorneys who focus a great deal of their involvement in specific areas of the law. Section membership is voluntary and membership rates are modest. All sections/divisions are involved in the production of specialized CLE seminars or publications in cooperation with The Florida Bar's Continuing Legal Education Committee. From these efforts come many of the fine continuing education programs and publications that are so essential to the Bar's advancement of professional growth within its members. Section/division members also enjoy the benefit of reduced fees for their section's own CLE programs.
Meetings--The Florida Bar offers its members a full range of opportunities to meet annually with other lawyers. The General Meeting of Committees and Sections in September provides the new committees and section executive councils an opportunity to meet, organize, and set goals for the year. The Midyear Meeting in January provides a midyear opportunity for the committees and sections to meet and conduct Bar business and educational opportunities for Bar members. The largest meeting is the Annual Meeting held in June. Sessions feature CLE presentations, panelists, guest speakers, open forums, hearings, and workshops on vita] issues affecting our profession. The installation of incoming Bar officers takes place during the General Assembly, also a part of Annual Meeting. Midyear and Annual meetings include exhibits by law-related vendors, alumni gatherings, and many other exceptional opportunities to share experiences and make contact with lawyers in The Florida Bar.
The CLE calendar is also prepared and maintained by Meetings Department staff. Arrangements for use of the Tallahassee and Tampa meeting rooms are made through this department.
Seek Counsel of Professional Experience (SCOPE)--The Public Service Programs Department operates the SCOPE (Seek Counsel of Professional Experience) Program, which is sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division. The SCOPE panel comprises a group of volunteer attorneys with at least five years' experience in designated areas of practice who agree to provide general counsel and advice to attorneys confronted with problems in areas of the law unfamiliar to them.
SCOPE provides a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, the exercise of independent judgment. Even a brief consultation should assist the attorney in making the critical professional determination of whether he or she is capable of undertaking the matter, and, if so, what might be the best approach for resolving the particular legal problems involved. In any case, both the Bar and the public are better served.
Assuring Integrity--Ideally, attorneys should conduct their practices in such a way that no complaints are ever filed against them. The processing and investigation of inquiries and complaints is a basic responsibility of the Bar as mandated by the Supreme Court of Florida. A complaint of unprofessional conduct against a Florida Bar member is a serious matter. It immediately puts into action the investigative and judicial processes of The Florida Bar.
Attorney Discipline--All lawyers must meet the minimum standards of conduct set forth in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the other provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, as adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida. Failure to meet these minimum standards subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
Initial investigation into inquiries of members is conducted through the branch disciplinary offices located in Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami.
Preventive Action--In addition to programs which resolve disciplinary problems, The Florida Bar conducts special activities aimed at preventing them. They include:
Attorney / Consumer Assistance Program (A CAP)--The Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program is a new tool for consumers and attorneys alike. It operates to serve the needs of the membership and the public. This program is designed to field calls from people who believe they have reason to complain about an attorney's conduct. It assists both the attorney and the consumer in resolving minor problems before they become a formal complaint.
This central intake program will serve as an "information clearinghouse" and will better serve the purposes of directing these complaints to the proper agency, program, or Bar department. The program's mission includes:
1) Improving the current disciplinary system by removing minor complaints;
2) Saving time and effort of attorneys in responding to these minor complaints;
3) Providing assistance to attorneys having difficulty with such minor complaints;
4) Giving the public an outlet and/or remedy to these minor problems.
This program is tailored to complement the current disciplinary procedures and screen minor frivolous types of complaints that ordinarily would not be processed through the formalized complaint procedures. ACAP is an alternative method to "divert" calls and written inquiries away from the discipline system to various other assistance resources within the Bar and would free up the discipline process to concentrate on the more serious complaints with greater speed and efficiency.
The Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program of The Florida Bar will produce an outgrowth of goodwill and public relations toward consumers who contact the Bar frequently for help and other information. This program is a "win-win" program for attorneys and their clients. If you have any questions about the ACAP program, please call toll-free 866/352-0707.
Educational and Advisory Programs--To supplement regular ethics columns in our member publications, Florida Bar CLE authors and lecturers are encouraged to stress ethical considerations by means of practical examples throughout all educational presentations.
The Florida Bar is proud of its regulatory and disciplinary system. Our officers and staff take part in an active public speaking program explaining the purposes and procedures of our grievance system to attorneys and the public. If you would like someone to speak to your bar association or other group on such topics, contact The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau in Tallahassee at (800) 342-8060, ext. 5767 or (850) 561-5767.
A strong program of educating all attorneys about appropriate fiduciary practice and trust accounting procedures is conducted. That effort includes updated CLE presentations on trust account management for lawyers and their support staff, plus a coordinated educational program provided in Bar publications and extending into Florida law schools.
Complementing ethics counsel in their rendering of ethics advice is a full-time CPA/auditor on the Tallahassee discipline staff and a program available to assist Bar members with specific questions regarding trust accounting practices.
Drug, Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Program--A separate nonprofit corporation, Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., administers a unique program to assist attorneys who have drug, alcohol, or mental health problems. Lawyers who seek assistance through this Bar-sanctioned service benefit from an experienced counselor and a team of fellow attorneys who are knowledgeable about alcohol and chemical dependency, mental health, and stress management. By court rule, Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.,'s voluntary consultations and assistance are provided in complete and absolute confidence.
Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., also maintains a confidential hotline for immediate assistance to inquiring attorneys. Calls are toll-free, (800) 282-8981.
Center for Professionalism--The Center for Professionalism is responsible for implementation and operation of professionalism programs and activities conducted throughout Florida, as well as for the collection and disbursement of professionalism resources and materials.
The mission of the Center for Professionalism is to promote the fundamental ideals and values of professionalism within the legal system and to instill those ideals of character, competence, and commitment in all those persons serving therein. This is accomplished through seminars, the CLE requirement, and publications focusing on various aspects of professionalism. Presentations at CLE events and law school gatherings, mentor programs, diversity training, faculty development programs, and articles and columns on professionalism have all served to heighten awareness of professionalism issues. Additionally, the center administers professionalism award programs: Professionalism, Faculty, Student Essay, and the Hoeveler Judicial Award.
Communications--Florida Bar activities and programs are effective only when they are appreciated and supported by the individuals and groups they affect. A wide range of communications vehicles is used to promote maximum understanding and support, including ...
Florida Bar Journal--Since 1927 The Florida Bar Journal has chronicled the evolution of law in this state and served as our association's official record. The Journal remains the premier source of practical articles on Florida law. Active members receive 10 Journal magazine issues and a directory edition each year. A searchable index to the Journal is available on the Bar's Web site, which also contains Journal articles. In May, the Journal publishes the information brochure and registration form for annual meeting.
Florida Bar News--The Florida Bar News is the primary means by which The Florida Bar communicates topical information to its members. The paper has been lauded by Bar members for its editorial independence and has been acknowledged nationally as a model vehicle for information about association activities.
This twice-monthly tabloid carries news about all levels of the organized Bar, other law-related organizations, and current legal issues. In addition, the Bar News publishes regular notices of CLE offerings, legislative information of interest to the legal profession, summaries of Board of Governors actions, Supreme Court official notices regarding proposed rule changes, committee preference forms, registration forms for general and midyear meetings, and a variety of member-related items. News issues are sent to all members, and many lawyers make use of its pages for free law office notices and other announcements. The publication's classified ad pages also serve as a helpful placement service for the Florida legal market. News articles also are posted on the Bar Web site.
Membership Directory--Each September The Florida Bar publishes and sends to its active members a copy of its directory issue of The Florida Bar Journal. As indicated in the many pages that follow, the directory contains alphabetical listings of Bar members, their addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses. The directory also includes a special reference section on all levels of state government and the court system, plus Florida's federal judiciary. Additional copies of the directory are available as a useful deskbook for legal secretaries or other law-conscious readers.
FLABAR ONLINE--The Florida Bar's Web site is a major conduit for communications with members and the public.
FLABAR ONLINE (www.FLABAR.org) provides access to a wide range of "on-site" information--including the Bar organization and services, ethics opinions, consumer topics, membership listings, legislative information, continuing legal education programs, application forms for special appointments, and registration forms. In addition, the Web site includes links to extensive legal resources housed at other sites. A key feature is the Bar's Daily News Summary, which compiles the day's headline legal news from across the state. An online media center has recently been added for journalists, with Bar news and feature stories and downloadable images for publication and airing.
Speakers Bureau--The Bar Speakers Bureau is a major vehicle for educating the public about the legal profession and our system of justice. The program provides volunteer Bar speakers at no charge throughout Florida for community and civic organizations, school audiences, business and religious groups, etc. To request a speaker, or to volunteer to serve on the Speakers Bureau, contact The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau at (850) 561-5767, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fax (850) 561-5733, or access the Bar's Web site.
Section Publications--As an added resource, most Florida Bar sections publish newsletters covering their areas of professional interest or concentration. Copies are provided to section members and costs are covered by section dues.
Bar Leaders' Conferences--Three intensive leadership conferences--one for voluntary bar association officers and staff, one for those who head sections, and one for those who head standing committees--strengthen ties among some of The Florida Bar's most important groups. These conferences keep our volunteer leaders informed about Florida Bar activities and services, Bar Center staff, and other officials and offer an opportunity for two-way communication about problems and concerns at all levels of the organization.
Professional Liaison--The Bar has long enjoyed its relations with those who serve on Florida's state and federal courts, and in other judicial associations. Representatives from the Bench and Bar attend many of each other's meetings and regularly exchange ideas and information of common interest.
The Florida Bar maintains constant contact with those in the accounting, medical, and real estate community through interprofessional liaison committees for each of these three groups. In turn, many of these nonlawyer professionals are leaders within the Bar's local disciplinary committee structure or participate at other levels of Bar governance and planning.
The Bar's member and staff activities include constant contact with the American Bar Association and counterpart organizations throughout the nation. This variety of involvement allows for an exchange of information, improved understanding and working relationships, and a wealth of data which helps improve Bar operations and programs.
Individual Member Services--The Florida Bar has, over the years, developed a number of services of direct benefit to individual Bar members including ...
Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS)--The Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) provides a broad range of practice management information and services to members of the Bar. A full-time staff director, two practice management advisors, and an administrative secretary are available to answer questions on a wide variety of practice management issues.
Affordable one-day, on-site consultations are offered at the office of any Florida Bar member upon request. Office consultations cover topics chosen by the firm and often include specific office concerns and issues such as: firm formations, law firm governance, mergers, personnel concerns, accounting practices, client management, marketing, staff education, filing and document management, software selection, space planning, and facilities management.
The service maintains a comprehensive library collection which addresses all facets of practice management, from "how-to" guides and office manuals to impartial evaluations of office equipment. Newsletters and periodicals with technology updates are maintained. Many publications from the American Bar Association's Section of Law Practice Management are available for review or purchase by Bar members. LOMAS maintains an extensive database of articles addressing such areas as computer and software selection, financial management, forms of practice, law office space planning, marketing, docket and calendar systems, malpractice prevention, and many more.
In addition, LOMAS reviews, writes, and disseminates information about law firm administration, automation, marketing, planning, and the connection between a professional attorney and a professionally run office. LOMAS develops and conducts seminars, CLE programs, and speeches for local bar associations, and also offers firm retreat services at very competitive rates.
More information about LOMAS may be obtained by calling The Florida Bar LOMAS office toll free at (866) 730-2020, or on the Bar Web site.
Member Benefits--The Member Benefits Program operates to assist members in both their professional and private lives via specialized group programs. The Member Benefits Committee seeks programs designed to offer products/services of a significant or unique benefit to lawyers or products/services available only to members of recognized groups. For information on specific programs, please contact the providers listed below. Overall questions or concerns should be directed to The Florida Bar, (850) 561-5622.
INSURANCE * Individual & Group Business Planning Insurance Concepts 800/282-8626 * Automobile Insurance Geico 800/368-2734 * Court and Surety Bonds JurisCo 800/274-2663 * Professional Liabi- lity Insurance FLMIC 800/633-6458 COMMERCIAL VENDORS * Business Informa- tion Reports Dun & Bradstreet 800/879-1362 * Car Rental Alamo (#93718) 800/354-2322 Avis (#A421600) 800/331-1212 Hertz (#152030) 800/654-2200 National (#5650262) 800/227-7368 * LexisNexis Member Benefits LexisNexis 800/836-8116 * Credit Card Program (Money Markets & CDs also) MBNA 800/523-7666 * Express Shipping Airborne Express (N82-YFLA) 888/758-8955 UPS (P350493) 800/325-7000 * Eyewear & Contacts Lens Express (FLBAR) 800/666-5367 * Magazine Subscrip- tions Subscription Services 800/289-6247 * Office Products & Pennywise Office Supplies Products 800/942-3311 * Retail Men's Wearhouse In-store discounts with proof of Florida Bar membership * Telecommunications WorldCom 800/318-2776 * Theme Park Clubs Anheuser-Busch Send requests to The Florida Bar Universal Studios Send requests to The Florida Florida Bar Water Mania Send requests to The Florida Bar
Mailings--For announcing law firm changes of personnel or address, or the opening of new offices, mailing services are available for purchase to all members. Access to The Florida Bar's membership list is available in three ways: as a computer printout; on gummed labels; and on Cheshire labels. The Bar also provides the membership on disk or as an electronic file.
Mailing lists and label runs can be formatted to include all members or almost any specific subgroup. The general membership list can be broken down alphabetically, by zip code, by judicial circuit, or by city, county, state, or country. Members can also be identified by law school, Bar admittance date, section membership, or areas of certification.
Policy of The Florida Bar allows the sale of lists or labels of membership names and addresses to most persons, groups, or entities. For more information, contact the Bar's Addressing Service Coordinator at (850) 561-5674.
Certificates of Good Standing--There are times when members may need a certificate of good standing from The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar Membership Records offices can provide one within three or four business days without charge. Call (850) 561-5832.
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|Publication:||Florida Bar Journal|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2002|
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