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Full agenda awaits the Board of Governors at its March meeting

Full agenda awaits the Board of Governors at its March meeting

Full agenda awaits the Board of Governors at its March meeting

Full agenda awaits the Board of Governors at its March meeting

The Florida BarFlorida lawyers for the first time could earn CLE credit for pro bono service under a proposal the Board of Governors will consider at a March 15 meeting in Coconut Grove.

Also on the agenda is an update on a trailblazing effort by Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez — the nation’s first PD to use generative AI for case preparation and research.

The board will also weigh whether to affirm a Standing Committee on Advertising decision that  a personal injury firm advertisement’s “magic button” for making hospital bills disappear constitutes a prohibited prediction or guarantee of results.

In a related matter, the board will consider on first reading a proposed rule change that could provide the Bar with additional flexibility in setting the fees lawyers pay to file an ad for review.

Regarding pro bono service, the board is scheduled to take final action on proposed amendments to Bar Rule 6-10.3 (Minimum Continuing Legal Education Standards).

The proposed revisions would permit a Florida lawyer to receive one hour of general continuing CLE for every four hours of pro bono service, not to exceed five hours of CLE in a three-year reporting cycle.

The Florida Supreme Court, in an August 1, 2023, letter, requested that the Bar consider “Authorizing continuing legal education credit or professionalism credit for pro bono participation.”

The letter specified that the Bar consider “whether there should be a maximum number of credit hours that can be earned under this authority.”

Justices issued the letter after reviewing recommendations by the Bar’s Special Committee on Greater Public Access to Legal Services.

In other business, the board is scheduled to receive a report from Special Committee on AI Tools & Resources Co-Chairs Duffy Myrtetus and Gordon Glover.

The report will update the board on Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez’s deployment of the Casetext legal assistant “CoCounsel,” an advanced, large-language model based on Chat GTP4.

The office’s front-line public defenders, most of them in the felony division, have been using the assistant since June 2023.

“We’ve been told by Casetext that we are the first public defender’s office in the country to be using artificial intelligence for research and for case preparation,” Cindy Guerra, chief deputy public defender for operations, told the Bar News in December.

Guerra said a typical example involves an assistant public defender uploading the facts of a client’s case and asking CoCounsel to prepare a deposition of the lead detective.

The assistant responds almost instantly with a comprehensive list of suggested questions, Guerra said.

“If you ask it to dig deeper into one of the subjects, it will give you more questions to ask,” she said.

Guerra said no assistants were reporting significant problems with the assistant and it was meeting all office expectations.

In other business, the board will be asked to weigh a law firm’s advertisement with a “magic button” “can reasonably be interpreted as a prediction or guarantee of success of specific results the lawyer can achieve” in violation of Rule 4-7.13(b)(1).

The advertisement depicts an actor sitting at a desk cluttered with bills — until she pushes a button that prominently features the law firm’s name.

Each press of the button makes a stack of bills disappear.

“At [the firm], we aim to get you financial recovery that will cover all your bills after an accident,” a narrator intones.

The ad features a disclaimer, “Dramatization, Not an Actual Event,” but the Standing Committee on Advertising still concluded that the “magic button” was an impermissible prediction or guarantee of success.

In a related but separate action, the Board of Governors will also consider a proposed amendment to Rule 4-7.19 (Evaluation of Advertisements).

The proposed amendment replaces language that sets a $150 for review of timely filed advertisements and $250 for late-filed advertisements with a statement that the fees are “set by the bar’s executive director as approved by the Board of Governors.”

The revisions would also add that the Bar would provide the Florida Supreme Court 30 days’ notice prior to the effectiveness of any increase in a fee amount, or the imposition of a new fee.

The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics proposal notes that the fees were established to cover the cost of evaluating the ads and enforcing the rules.

“However, these fees were last increased in 2006 and the program’s operating costs are now well in excess of the filing fees received,” the staff analysis states. “If revised, the language would permit The Florida Bar to adjust these fees to offset the program’s costs.”

The item appears on the agenda on first reading only. The board could grant final approval at a May 9 meeting in Key West, but the Supreme Court would have the final say.

In other business the board will:

  • Weigh a screening committee’s recommendation of four candidates to replace outgoing Florida Bar Board of Governors Public Member Linda Goldstein of Tampa. The Supreme Court will select one of the nominees to serve a two-year term commencing June 21, 2024.
  • Consider the appointment of an attorney, to serve a four-year term commencing July 1, 2024, to serve on the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.


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