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16 Fla. B. News 1 (1989)

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TV ads changed beliefs, but not attitudes


By Joe Bizzaro
Associate Editor

  The Florida Bar's three-week television ad
campaign changed few attitudes about law-
yers but demonstrated that the beliefs which
underpin those attitudes can be altered.
  The campaign gave us confidence that we
can change beliefs and, in the long run,
change attitudes, said Bar Public Informa-
tion Director Jerry Butterfield.
  Butterfield and Executive Director John
F. Harkness, Jr., met December 15 with rep-
resentatives of the Bar's advertising and poll-
ing firms to evaluate the impact of the
$600,000 campaign, which aired statewide
from November 14 through December 4.
  They were told that while the spots did
not significantly enhance the public's image


of lawyers, they did increase public aware-
ness of the profession's commitment to pro-
viding free legal services.
  WHAT that suggests, Butterfield said, is
that a long-term commitment by the Bar to
paid media can change enough beliefs about
lawyers to ultimately improve the public's
attitude toward them.
  According to polling, more than half the
people had a favorable or very favorable
opinion of lawyers after the TV campaign
aired, virtually the same number as prior to
the campaign.
  While there was essentially no shift in the
public's attitude' toward lawyers, other fig-
ures show that the ad campaign was success-
ful in convincing people that significant
numbers of attorneys donate time to their
communities.


  Prior to the campaign, 48 percent of those
surveyed expressed the belief that between
26 percent and 49 percent of the state's attor-
neys do pro bono work. Overall, 68 percent
said at least 1 percent of attorneys donate
time.
  After the campaign, 59 percent estimated
that between 26 percent and 49 percent of
Florida's attorneys donate time. Overall, 82
percent said at least 1 percent. of the state's
attorneys donate time.
  (In the 1988 Florida Bar Membership At-
titude Survey, approximately 81 percent of
the attorneys surveyed said they willingly
provided legal services in 1987 to individuals
they knew could not afford to pay.)
  NOTABLY, the percentage of people who
were unsure whether lawyers did pro bono
work dropped from one in three to one in


five, indicating that the campaign accom-
plished the task of changing beliefs, about
the legal community's contributions to soci-
ety.
  While beliefs are perceptions with no posi-
tive or negative evaluation, Butterfield
noted, they are the building blocks of atti-
tudes, which are judgmental.
  In order to change attitudes, you have to
change beliefs, he said, adding that he is
confident future efforts along the lines of the
recent TV campaign will help achieve that
goal.
  But, Butterfield added, such a shift in atti-
tudes will take time.
  In the 1950s, lawyers were placed up on
a pedestal. It has taken 30 years for people
                    (Please see TV, page 3)


The F.iorid.a Bar.News-

January 1, 1989                                                                                                                                           Vol. 16, No. 1


Analysis



Controversy added some spice to .1988


By Joe Bizzaro
Associate Editor

   Some victories. Some defeats. Some con-
troversies settled and still others left
unresolved. It was that kind of year for The
Florida Bar and the legal community.
   Herewith, a look back at some of the top
Bar and law related stories of 1988:

Tort Revision
   If there was a single issue which domi-
nated 1988 from the perspective of the Bar
in particular and lawyers in general, it was
tort revisiont -
   The issue seized the spotlight February 2
when the Florida Legislature convened in
special session to grapple with the problem
of sky high medical malpractice insurance
premiums.
   Physicians caught in the economic vise
 urged lawmakers to completely scrap a tort
 system they said was granting unreasonably
 high awards and driving malpractice premi-
 ums through the roof.
   Attorneys fearful of a wholesale raid on
 litigant rights urged moderation, and the
 Bar endorsed a Trial Lawyers Section plan
 to refer all medical malpractice claims to
 nonbinding arbitration.
   LAWMAKERS ultimately approved a
 voluntary, binding arbitration plan which
 placed conditional caps on the amount of
 noneconomic damages which may be
 awarded in medical malpractice cases. In ad-
 dition, they provided greater immunity for
 emergency care physicians and established a
 no-fault compensation plan for some obstet-
 ric injuries.
   The legislation did not go down well with
 much of the legal community. Nor did it ap-
 pease Florida's doctors, who proceeded to
 place on the November ballot a proposed
 constitutional amendment capping none-
 conomic damages in all tort cases at
 $100,000.
   What followed was the costliest amend-
 ment battle in state history, with proponents
and opponents splitting a tab of more than
$15 million to finance a bitter TV campaign
described by many as deceptive and mislead-
ing.
   When the vote was in, proposed Amend-
ment 10 lay dead, overwhelmingly rejected
by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

IOTA
   Perhaps the most controversial internal is-
sue confronted by the Bar in 1988 was a pro-
posal to broaden participation in the Interest
on Trust Accounts (IOTA) program.
   Looking to increase revenues to fund free
legal counsel and other services, The Florida
Bar Foundation proposed that IOTA be
changed from voluntary to comprehensive.
   Under that proposal, all attorneys holding
trust accounts would be required to earn in-
terest on them and proceeds from short-term
or nominal accounts would go into IOTA.
  That plan was endorsed in May by the
Bar's Board of Governors, which tacked on
provisos that the Bar be empowered to name


all Foundation directors and 10 percent of
the estimated $12 million in annual revenues
go for legal education programs.
  The board's action angered many attor-
neys, who resented the mandatory nature of
the comprehensive plan. That protest
prompted the board to withdraw its support
for comprehensive IOTA and support a pro-
gram which would mandate IOTA for all at-
torneys but allow them to opt out if they so
desired.
  Those conflicting positions were still
awaiting resolution by the Florida Supreme
Court when this issue of the Bar News went
to press December 20.

Confidentiality
  Also still to be resolved are a special Bar
panel's recommendations that confiden-


tiality in the lawyer discipline process be re-
laxed.
   Under the Disciplinary Review Commis-
sion recommendations presented in Septem-
ber, the so-called gag rule prohibiting
complainants from revealing or discussing
complaints filed with a grievance committee
would be dropped, as would the absolute
immunity from civil liability which com-
plainants now enjoy. Bar staff also would be
allowed to acknowledge that investigations
were being conducted in some instances.
   At the same time, discipline files would no
longer be made public only if and when the
Bar lodged a formal complaint against an
attorney with the Supreme Court. Instead,
they would be opened after a finding of
probable cause, no probable cause or non-
jurisdiction was entered.


Record attendance is expected

as Midyear registration soars


  With early registrations running nearly
  100 percent ahead of last year, planners of
The Florida Bar's 1989 Midyear Meeting are
expecting a record turnout at the Buena
Vista Palace January 11-14.
  Changes in the meeting's format should
mean the larger numbers will not translate
into long lines or other delays experienced
last year, the planners are quick to add.
  Last year was our first meeting since the
continuing education requirement was
adopted, and we really didn't know what to
expect, explained Dianne Lynn, director of
the Bar's mietings department. This time
we have expanded the program and expect
a larger number of lawyers, but well be
ready. I think it will run smoothly.
  The Bar's Ninth Annual Midyear Meet-
ing, a combination of 27 CLE programs,
section and committee meetings, a host of
entertainment events and a mini-tradeshow
with 36 exhibitors, will attract well over the


1,100 lawyers who registered for the pro-
gram last year, Lynn said. More than 620
lawyers took advantage of an early bird
special' by registering before December 15,
she said-nearly double the number of Mid-
year registrants recorded this time last year.
   Lynn attributed the increase in preregis-
trations at least in part to the registration fee
savings available until December 15. She
said she doubted that the total number of
lawyers attending Midyear would double
over last year, but that we won't know for
sure until after the meeting.
  Streamlining the registration process and
centralizing seminars should cut down on
lines and confusion, Lynn said. More space
also has been reserved for the meeting,
which will alleviate other problems experi-
enced last year, she said.
  THE MEETING will be held at Buena
Vista Palace, located within Walt Disney
               (Please see Midyear, page 6)


  Proponents of the recommendations ar-
gued that the changes would restore and en-
hance public confidence in the Bar's ability
to police its own members. Opponents ar-
gued that they would unduly threaten lawyer
reputations while discouraging the filing of
legitimate complaints.
  An anticipated vote on the recommenda-
tions was postponed in November and the
Board of Governors now is scheduled to
take up the matter at the end of this month.


BarLobbying
  Honoring a Bar request, the Florida Su-
preme Court in June approved a method by
which a portion of member dues used to
lobby an objectional position could be re-
funded to the objecting member.
  But at the same time, the court raised seri-
ous questions about the scope of Bar lobby-
ing and asked its Judicial Council to investi-
gate the matter and recommend possible
rules changes.
  Lauderhill attorney Thomas Schwarz,
whose petition led to the probe, argued that
as an arm of the Supreme Court, the Bar
should be limited in its lobbying to matters
directly affecting lawyer discipline and ad-
ministration of the courts.
  Bar President Rutledge Liles and others
argued that the Bar must be free to lobby a
wide range of issues which might impact on
the public's access to justice.
  The Judicial Council concluded that the
Bar should be free to lobby any issue of
great public interest which affects the pub-
lic's rights and of which attorneys possess
special insight.

Targeted Mail Solicitation
  Concerned about offensive lawyer adver-
tising, the Board of Governors in January
                  (Please see 1988, page 3)










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