Covering legal ethics, judicial ethics, bar admissions in Florida, Tennessee, and nationally.  See our Subject Index to past postings.

NEW in Florida Legal Ethics . . .

The Florida Supreme Court decides that, like retained and appointed counsel, pro bono counsel in a criminal case may file motions for appointed experts and miscellaneous costs ex parte and under seal . . . (see more) [Added 5/23/18]

The U.S. Supreme Court reverses a conviction, ruling that a criminal defense counsel may not concede a capital defendant’s guilt at trial over the vociferous objections of the defendant . . . (see more) [Added 5/22/18]

The Fourth DCA reverses a conviction due to the prosecution’s improper closing argument . . . (see more) [Added 5/21/17]

The Supreme Court amends the Code of Judicial Conduct to clarify judges’ obligations regarding reporting expenses of permissible quasi- or extra-judicial activities that are reimbursed or paid by a state government entity . . . (see more) [Added 5/18/18]

The Supreme Court suspends a lawyer for 3 years instead of the recommended 1 year for violating business transaction with clients rule, charging prohibited fees, attempting to assume co-equal decision making authority with a client, providing indirect financial assistance to a client, and taking an interest in the subject matter of litigation . . . (see more) [Added 5/16/18]

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District sanctions a lawyer and refers him to the Florida Bar for failing to disclose relevant facts that would have eliminated the need for a hearing on a moot issue, despite the lawyer’s assertion of the confidentiality rule as a defense . . . (see more) [Added 5/14/18]

While noting that Florida law does not specifically recognize a “claims file privilege,” the Third DCA quashes an order requiring production of certain claims file materials in a first-party breach of contract action . . . (see more) [Added 5/11/18]

A public records exemption for personal financial information identifying a specific consumer in connection with an insurance policy is upheld as constitutional by the First DCA . . . (see more) [Added 5/9/18]

The Fourth DCA reverses a determination that a Sunshine Law violation was cured by a subsequent public meeting . . . (see more) [Added 5/7/18]

The Supreme Court rejects an applicant for readmission despite a unanimous recommendation from the Board of Bar Examiners because the applicant failed to show sufficient “positive action” to prove rehabilitation . . . (see more) [Added 5/4/18]

A defendant’s conviction is reversed due to an inadequate Faretta hearing . . . (see more) [Added 5/2/18]

A single, joint proposal for settlement was invalid because it did not apportion the amount attributable to each offeror in a situation where the offerors’ liability was not exclusively derivative in nature . . . (see more) [Added 4/30/18]

Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call 2 witnesses who would have supported the defendant’s theory of defense but were excluded by a motion in limine to which counsel did not object . . . (see more) [Added 4/25/18]

On rehearing, the Fourth DCA quashes an order disqualifying a law firm that employed a lawyer who previously represented its client’s opponent but left the firm while the disqualification motion was pending . . . (see more) [Added 4/20/18]

Florida International posts the top first-time-taker pass rate for the February 2018 general bar examination . . . (see more) [Added 4/16/18]

A judgment awarding fees that included a contingent fee multiplier is reversed despite the lack of a transcript of the fee hearing because there was no finding whether the relevant market required a multiplier . . . (see more) [Added 4/15/18]

A city violated the Sunshine Law because the city council’s discussions exceeded the scope of the “shade session” exception to the law . . . (see more) [Added 4/11/18]

The Supreme Court disbars, rather than suspends, a lawyer whose lack of supervision of an employee with a criminal history “gives new meaning to the phrase 'turning a blind eye'" . . . (see more) [Added 3/28/18]

The Supreme Court amends rules regulating referral services to expressly recognize their applicability to all client-lawyer matching services, and further orders the Bar to prepare rules restricting services that refer to more than one professional service . . . (see more) [Added 3/9/18]

The Fourth DCA declines to disqualify a law firm that employed a lawyer who previously represented its client’s opponent, where the lawyer left the firm before the disqualification motion was filed . . . (see more) [Added 3/5/18]

The Supreme Court amends the Evidence Code, recognizing that communications between a lawyer and a client acting as a fiduciary are protected by the attorney-client privilege . . . (see more) [Added 2/20/18]

The Board of Governors approves a proposed rule change to increase the CLE requirements in “professionalism” . . . (see more) [Added 2/14/18]

The Board of Governors decides that it is permissible for a lawyer to ask a client to pay the premium on a “litigation cost protection” insurance policy in the event of a recovery for the client in a contingent fee case . . .  (see more[Added 2/12/18]

The Bar and the Board of Bar Examiners file a revised petition asking the Supreme Court to adopt rules providing for temporary authorization for spouses of active duty military personnel to practice law in Florida . . . (see more) [Added 2/7/18]

Rejecting the federal courts’ approach, the Supreme Court reaffirms that under Florida law there is not a “rare” and “exceptional” circumstances exception to application of a contingency fee multiplier to a prevailing party fee award . . . (see more) [Added 1/9/18]

The Board of Governors determines that the “Avvo Advisor” program is considered a “lawyer referral service” under Bar rules . . . (see more) [Added 1/2/18]

The Supreme Court rejects proposed rules for temporary authorization to practice law in Florida for spouses of active duty military personnel . . . (see more) [Added 12/26/17]

The Board of Governors approves Florida Ethics Opinion 17-1 regarding fee-sharing with law firms in jurisdictions with rules that permit non-lawyer ownership in law firms . . . (see more) [Added 12/24/17]

The Supreme Court approves a change to the bar admission rules designed to make it easier to transfer bar exam scores from other states to Florida . . . (see more) [Added 12/5/17]

The Supreme Court broadly construes Amendment 7 to protect external peer review reports of a hospital’s adverse medical incidents that were created by an outside retained expert . . . (see more) [Added 11/28/17]

The Supreme Court approves rule amendments regarding soliciting gifts or fiduciary appointments from clients, notifying clients when leaving a law firm, contacting prospective clients, settling malpractice claims with unrepresented clients, holding trust funds in credit unions, protecting trust funds when third parties claim an interest, emeritus attorneys, authorized house counsel, and foreign legal consultants; the Court rejects proposed change to rules on using “specialist” or “expert” in advertising . . . (see more) [Added 11/21/17]

The Supreme Court suspends a lawyer for one year instead of the recommended 60 days for violating the rule against solicitation of clients
. . . (see more) [Added 11/6/17]

Hoping to increase access to justice, the Supreme Court approves relaxed conflict of interest rules to apply in short-term, limited representation carried out through non-profit organization programs . . . (see more) [Added 10/23/17]

The Supreme Court rejects proposed changes to rules that would recognize 3 types of representation (lead counsel, additional counsel, and limited representation counsel), without prejudice to submission of “more individualized and refined proposals”  . . . (see more) [Added 9/15/17]

The Supreme Court dismisses without prejudice the Bar’s petition to amend the rules regulating lawyer referral services . . . (see more) [Added 5/3/17]

The Supreme rejects proposed amendments to the rules regarding character and fitness evaluations of students who apply for the Law School Practice Program . . . (see more) [Added 4/14/17]

The Supreme Court rejects a third Florida Bar proposal to authorize lawyers to handle “extraordinary” lien resolution services on a referral from a personal injury lawyer . . . (see more) [Added 10/7/16]

The Supreme Court approves a rule defining retainers, flat fees, and advance fees and specifying how they should be handled for trust accounting purposes . . . (see more) [Added 9/19/15]