sunEthics 

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

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NEW in Florida Legal Ethics . . .

The question of an insurer’s standing to bring a malpractice claim against counsel hired to represent an insured is certified to the Florida Supreme Court . . . (see more) [Added 3/22/2019]


A city commission’s “full and open public meeting” cured any potential Sunshine Law violation relating to its process for eliminating some applicants for a vacant commission seat . . . (see more) [Added 3/20/19]


A trial court erred in treating the attorney’s fee provision in a marital settlement agreement as a waiver of the right to seek fees in future enforcement actions . . . (see more) [Added 3/19/19]


A trial court’s denial of fees for litigating the amount and reasonableness of fees is upheld based on the language in the parties’ contract . . . (see more) [Added 3/15/19]


A judgment in a personal injury case is reversed because the trial court erred in admitting financial records that were attorney-client privileged under Worley v. YMCA and requiring plaintiff’s counsel to testify to such matters . . . (see more) [Added 3/12/19]


A trial court abused its discretion in treating Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.380(a)(4) as a prevailing party rule and awarding fees against the non-moving party’s counsel . . . (see more) [Added 3/11/19]


Reversing the trial court, the First DCA holds that a prevailing lessor was entitled to fees under both the lease and the offer of judgment statute, F.S. 768.79 . . . (see more) [Added 3/8/19]


A claim that a party waived work product protection by not filing a privilege log was not ripe for certiorari review where the trial court had not yet ruled on the party’s non-privilege objections . . . (see more) [Added 3/6/19]


A trial court erred in dismissing a litigation malpractice claim where the court incorrectly believed that the underlying consent judgment was on appeal . . . (see more) [Added 3/4/19]


A mortgage holder that dismissed its foreclosure complaint before the issue of its standing was litigated may have prevailing party fees awarded against it . . . (see more) [Added 2/28/19]


The “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” argument does not protect defense expert witness retention and compensation information from disclosure, but the Fifth DCA certifies the question to the Supreme Court . . . (see more) [Added 2/26/19]


Prevailing party fees are awarded to defendant borrowers after the alleged mortgage holder voluntarily dismissed its foreclosure complaint . . . (see more) [Added 2/25/19]


A judge is disqualified in 12 tobacco cases after disclosing an ex parte communication with a plaintiff’s counsel in another tobacco case about a common “hot button” issue . . . (see more) [Added 2/21/19]


A trial court abused its discretion in dismissing a case after refusing to recognize the appearance of new counsel because prior counsel had not withdrawn . . . (see more) [Added 2/19/19]


The Fourth DCA rules that a F.S. 57.105(1) fee motion can be brought solely against a lawyer and that the motion can properly seek an award where a single cause of action asserts more than one factual scenario for liability, and the fee motion attacks only one of those factual scenarios as unsupported by law . . . (see more) [Added 2/18/19]


A trial court properly denied fees to the wife in a dissolution case where her fees were paid by family members and there was no evidence that the wife had an obligation to repay them . . . (see more) [Added 2/15/19]


An insurance company does not have standing to bring a legal malpractice case against a law firm it hired to defend its insured . . . (see more) [Added 2/12/19]


The Supreme Court resolves a conflict and decides that proposals for settlement made under F.S. 768.79 need not comply with the email service provisions of Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.516 . . . (see more) [Added 2/11/19]


A court erred in not awarding fees under F.S. 57.105 to a party who was forced to litigate a frivolous interpleader action . . . (see more) [Added 2/5/19]


A lawyer is denied authorization to represent a ward in a guardianship proceeding who contacted the lawyer directly to retain him . . . (see more) [Added 2/4/19]


The claims of a lawyer and law firm to a $500,000 “participation fee” in a contingent fee case are denied because the rules governing division of fees were not followed . . . (see more) [Added 1/31/19]



The Supreme Court acts on the Bar’s biennial rules proposals, including proposed amendments relating to self-reporting criminal charges and convictions to the Bar, the Bar’s duty to notify the Court of a lawyer’s felony adjudication, client payments by credit card, imputed disqualification, collaborative law, CLE “professionalism” requirements, and electronic meetings . . . (see more) [Added 1/14/19]


In a legal malpractice case, adoptive parents sufficiently alleged that they were intended third-party beneficiaries of a legal services agreement between the adoption agency and the defendant lawyer . . . (see more) [Added 1/11/19]


The Board of Governors approves an advisory opinion addressing what fees lawyers may pay, or not pay, to receive referrals from qualifying providers . . . (see more) [Added 1/10/19]


Per the Supreme Court, Rule 4-3.(b) permits payment to a fact witness for assistance with case and discovery preparation only if that assistance is “directly related to” the witness preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings . . . (see more) [Added 1/8/19]


Stating that the referee’s report was “inadequate” and “incomplete,” the Supreme Court finds additional rules violations and disbars the lawyer rather than imposing no further discipline, as the referee recommended . . . (see more) [Added 12/24/18]


A party that prevails in having a mortgage foreclosure dismissed because the lender is not entitled to enforce the contract cannot recover fees based on a provision in that contract . . . (see more) [Added 12/7/18]


Resolving a conflict between DCAs, the Supreme Court rules that an allegation that the trial judge is a Facebook “friend” of a lawyer in the case is not sufficient of itself to constitute a ground for the judge’s disqualification . . . (see more) [Added 11/17/18]


Florida International leads the state in first-time-taker pass rate for the July 2018 general bar examination . . .  (see more[Added 9/17/18]


The Supreme Court approves rules allowing temporary authorization for spouses of active duty military personnel to practice law in Florida . . . (see more) [Added 7/20/18]


Following the Supreme Court’s directive, the Florida Bar petitions for a rule change that would prohibit lawyers from accepting referrals from “qualifying providers” that refer to more than one profession for the same incident . . . (see more) [Added 6/5/18]


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 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 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]


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 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]