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Board of Governors prepares for May meeting

Board of Governors prepares for May meeting

Board of Governors prepares for May meeting

Board of Governors prepares for May meeting

Board of GovernorsWhen it meets May 10 in Key West, the Board of Governors is expected to sign off on a $43.2 million budget proposal for FY 2024-25.

The proposed spending plan, which was revised after being published for member objection, projects $43.2 million in revenues and $48.4 million in expenses for an operating loss of $5.2 million.

The proposed revenue reflects a 1.5% increase from FY 2023-24, and a 6.6% increase in expenses over the same period.

The Bar typically runs a slight deficit, and Budget Committee Chair-elect Jeffrey Rynor assured the board last month that Bar finances are sound. The deficit is partially offset by investment income from the Long-Term Fund, which contained $71.3 million on March 31.

The Bar’s executive director filed an objection as a procedural move so the budget could be revised to reflect $108,000 in additional CLE revenues that were accidentally omitted.

The only Florida Bar member who filed an objection expressed a concern about the size of the deficit.

“What is the real cost of $265 after 23 years of inflation?” the member wrote. “Then look at the value added by the many activities taken on in the past 23 years.”

The general fund budget and the Certification Fund, Client Security Fund, Litigation Fund, Fixed Asset Fund and Bar Section Funds, which the board must also approve, are available.

All budgets will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for final consideration.

In other business, the board is expected to consider a proposed amendment to Rule 3-7.18 (Disposition of Inquiries or Complaints Referred to the Bar by Members of the Judiciary).

The proposed amendments would make it clear that inquiries or complaints referred to the Bar by members of the judiciary should be “information obtained during the course of the member of the judiciary’s official duties as a judicial officer.”

The revisions would also make it clear that a judicial referral “does not include allegations of violations of canons, rules, or law relating to judicial elections.”

“The Bar has received referrals from judges regarding opponents in judicial elections and referrals from judges regarding conduct relating to the judge’s life as a private citizen,” according to a staff analysis. “In neither of those instances are the reasons judicial referrals are treated differently present.”

The Disciplinary Procedure Committee approved the proposed amendments, 9-0, in November 2023. The amendments, which appeared on first reading on the board’s March agenda, are up for final action. If approved, the Supreme Court will have the final say.

In other action — and in hopes of eliminating member confusion — the board will be asked to consider a proposal to no longer charge a prorated fee to new members who join the bar in the final quarter of the fiscal year.

Most new Florida Bar members join either in the first quarter of the fiscal year, or the final quarter, Bar records show.

Some members who join in the final quarter are going delinquent in the next fiscal year because they recently paid a prorated fee and didn’t realize it was not for the following full year, according to a staff analysis.

Bar staff has also determined that the fiscal impact of not collecting the pro-rated amount for the final quarter of a fiscal year will not negatively impact net income, due to the administrative savings of having to communicate with delinquent members and then subsequently executing the manual process for reinstatement that resulted from the initial fees confusion.

The proposal is contained in proposed amendments to Bar Rule 1-7.3 (Membership Fees) that would eliminate a subsection (b) “Prorated Fees.”

A new subsection (b) “Membership Fees for New Members” would require new members admitted on or after July 1 of each year through March 31 of the following year to pay full annual membership fees within 60 days of admission.

A second sentence would state: “New members admitted between April 1 and June 30 of each year pay no fees until July 1 beginning their first full year of membership.”

If the board approves, the Supreme Court will have final say.

In an unrelated matter, the board will consider a proposed amendment to Rule 4-7.20 (Exemptions from the Filing and Review Requirement), as directed by the Supreme Court.

The proposed amendment would add a subdivision (h) “advertisements and other communications regarding legal services made by or on behalf of a legal aid organization, which is a not-for-profit business entity as defined elsewhere in these rules.”

The revision would make it clear that legal aid organizations are not required to file their advertisements and other communications for Bar review.

The Supreme Court requested the revision in an August 1, 2023, letter, after reviewing recommendations from the Bar’s “Special Committee on Greater Public Access to Legal Services.”

In other action, the board will elect new members to the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is composed of the president, the president-elect, the Budget Committee chair, Legislation Committee chair, Communications Committee chair, the Disciplinary Review Committee chair, the Program Evaluation Committee chair, the Young Lawyers Division president, two board members selected by the president, and three board members selected by the board.

Unless otherwise limited by rule, the Executive Committee has full power and authority to exercise the function of the board to the extent authorized by the board on any specific matter that necessarily must be determined between meetings of the board. The Executive Committee notifies the board at the next meeting of all actions taken by the committee during the interim period. Unless modified by the board, actions by the Executive Committee are final.



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