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17 Fla. B. News 1 (1990)

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January 1, 1990                                                                                                                                                Vol. 17, No. 1







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The south side of the- Florida Supreme Court building, with the state Capitol in the
background, shows s6Ae of the signs of the building's expansion. 7he older part at the front
of the building still has its white paint. But the newer addition at the rear is still awaiting its
coating, even though some of the offices inside are occupied. More pictures of the work are
on page 10.



1 0: The y ear in review


By Gary Blankenship
Assoiwe' Editor
  From advertising rules to lobbying, from
Florida Medical Association clallenges to
IOTA, and from guardianship to disputes
with the Internal Revenue Service, 1989 was
a busy year for The Florida Bar.
  The Bar Board of Governors proposed





  Lawyers wanting to be involved in the
work of The Florida Bar have until January
26 to return their committee preference
forms.
  The 1990-91 Committee Preference
  Form, which invites members of the Bar to
  list the committees they would like to serve
  on during the administration of President
  James Fox Miller, were distributed to Bar
  members in the December 15 issue of The
  Florida Bar News.
  Miller has indicated that no one will be
  appointed to more than one committee, and
  preference will be given to new appointees,
  except for committee chairmanships.
  Present committee members whose terms
  expire in 1990 must complete the form to
  be considered for reappointment. Terms are
  listed in the September directory issue of
  the lournal on pages 423-438. Persons
  whose terms have not expired and who
  have been active participants will be reap-
  pointed. However, Miller asks that they,
  too, return a form so he knows if they
  desire to continue.
  Miller cautioned those committee roem-
  hers who have not fully participated in the
  past or have a record of habitual absentee-
  ism that they will be replaced, even if their
  terms have not ended. A waiting list will
  also bc established to replace members who
  regularly miss meetings during the year.
  Miller will be in Tallahassee for at least
  three days a week beginning February 28,
  to review committee appointnents. He said
  the process should be completed by April
  6.


controversial rules regulating lawyer adver-
tising that garnered challenges not only
from within the Bar, but from an advertiser
association as well. The legislature over-
hauled guardianship laws and repercussions
are still being felt.
  The Bar's lobbying authority was a popu-
lar topic, popping up before tire Florida
Supreme Court, the I Ith U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals and in an amicus brief at the
U.S. Supreme Court.
  It was a year when some issues got re-
solved, some fresh ones arose, and others
continued through the year, awaiting reso-
lution sometime in the 90's.
   Here are some of the topics that occupied
the Bar during 1989.

Advertising
  The Bar studied how its own ads were
affecting public opinion, but the big adver-
tising fight came over proposed new rules.
A Young Lawyers Division study showed
widespread ambiguities and misleading state-
ments in lawyer ads and tire Bar's Special
Commission on Advertising and Solicita-
tions also found abuses.
   The commission recommended tough new
regulations and in July the Board of Gover-
nors agreed and sent them to the Supreme
Court.
   The proposed rules would ban anyone
 but the lawyer from appearing in an ad, ban
 dramatizations, prohibit targeted mail-
 ings for personal injury or wrongful death
 cases, and restrict fictional names used to
 get a lawyer better placement in Yellow
 Pages advertising. The rules would also
 require a review of most ads and all solicita-
 tion letters by a Bar committee, and require
 many ads to carry a written disclaimer that
 advertising alone is not the best way to
 choose an attorney.
   Opponents said there was insufficient evi-
 dence of abuse to warrant the tough restric-
 tions and that tie rules infringed on free
 speech rights.
   The American Association of Advertising
                   (Please see 1989, page 8)


By Gary Blankenship
Asmoiiate Editor

  If trial judges must recuse themselves when
lawyers before them have been campaign
contributors, then attorneys could avoid
certain judges by making campaign contri-
butions and qualified judges might find it
hard to raise campaign funds.
  It would also lead to an administrative
nightmare in assigning cases, according to
The Florida Bar, which is arguing all those
points before the Florida Supreme Court.
  The Bar has filed an amicus curiae brief
in an appeal pending at the court involving
I lth Circuit Court Judge Mary Ann
MacKenzie. The Third District Court of
Appeal has ruled that Judge MacKenzie
should have recused herself in two cases
involving an attorney who made a $500
contribution to her husband's unsuccessful
circuit court race, SC 74,800.
  THE REAL question, though, according
to the Bar's and other briefs, is whether
judges should remove themselves from cases
where the attorneys or the parties have
made contributions either to them, or to
election opponents.


  The Bar has also asked to participate in
oral arguments in the case. No date for oral
arguments had been set as of early Decem-
ber.
  The Bar's brief notes that lawyers are
encouraged to participate in judicial elec-
tions and make donations, and that lawyers
have a great interest in electing qualified
judges. Further, the legislature has capped
donations to trial court judges at $1,000,
and that would be presumed to be a legisla-
tive finding that such a donation does not
pose a conflict of interest for a judge, the
Bar said.
   But the Third DCA's ruling, 14 FLW
223, changed that. Lawyers would now
effectively have an absolute veto over judges.
By the simple device of contributing $500
each, a lawyer can remove all judges consid-
ered by the lawyer to be undesirable from
sitting on the cases in which the lawyer (or
presumably another member of the firm) is
involved, the Bar argued. Conversely, a
lawyer would be able to veto any judge who
received a contribution of $500 or more
from the opposing counsel (or presumably
the opposing counsel's law firm).
            (Please sete MacKenzie, page 4)


FLM IC has, od first year


By Gary Blankenship
,tssmhi aw Editor
  With its first year's operations over, the
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Com-
pany is gearing up to renew its policies
January I and sign up more attorneys for
insurance coverage.
  Gene Young. vice president for under-
writing for FLMIC, said almost 800 lawyers
bought insurance from The Florida Bar-
created company since January I, 1989,
when it started writing policies.
  In 1989, the company took in around
$1.5 million in premiums, and paid out one
claim for $8,500, Young said. The extra
went to defray operating costs and into
required reserves.
  It's anticipated the company will show
an underwriting profit for the first year,
Young noted.
   WITH THE new year will come a change
in policy requirements. At tile start, Young
said, the company required policyholders
to buy three surplus certificates in most
areas of Florida, or four if they lived in
Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties.
Each certificate costs $500, and the money
goes to build up reserves.
   As of January I, that will go up to five
certificates in Broward, Dade and Palm
Beach, and four in the rest of the state.
Young said the certificates do not provide
insurance, but merely qualify the buyer to
purchase FLMIC's coverage.
   In June, the company's board decided
 that lawyers could qualify for coverage if
 they bought only one certificate, but agreed
 to buy the others before the end of the year.
 (If you receive this issue of the News before
 January I, you can still get the lower certifi-
 cate rate. FLMIC will close December 29 at
 5 p.m.)
   Besides the one-time cost of buying the
certificates, the average policy has been
running $2,500 to $3,000 per attorney,
Young said.
  The certificates can pay up to five percent
annual interest, but only at the discretion
of the board and if tlie company has enough
money in its reserves. FILMIC did not pay
any interest in its first year. The company
can also refund the certificates when its
reserves meet certain state-required mini-
norris. .
  All policies end in ,lauuary. Attorneys
who sign op for coverage alter ,lanuary
have their rates prorated for the remainder
of the calendar year.
   EVEN LAWYERS who chose otler in-
srance benefitted from the company.
according to Young.
   The lawyers who are still insured with
 other commercial carriers should be thank-



       BEST COPY AVAILABLE


ful for us because I think our presence in
the market is seen as a competitive threat.
lie said. Consequently, some other carriers
have cut premiums to tile bones, Young
said.
   When the Bar began forming FLMIC in
 1985, there was a hard insurance market,
 Young said. Companies were dropping coy-'
 erage for lawyers and leaving tile state
 Many attorneys were seeing premiums--
 when they could find coverage-double and
 triple.
   In the past year or so, the crisis has eased,
more companies have begun selling cover-
age, and some have cut rates, Young noted.
Despite that, lie's confident FLMIC has
gotten off to a good start and will eventu-
ally insure the majority of insured attorneys
in Florida.
  We're not always the cheapest policy,
and we don't want to be the cheapest,
Young said. Our policy gives the broadest
coverage of any policy available in tie state.
Our intent is to be here all the time, for the
soft markets and tile hard markets.
   And lie does see signs the insurance mar-
ket will begin to tighten and rates increase
for commercial companies. Much of that
comes as the insurance industry adjusts
rates in property coverage to make up for
losses from Hurricane Hugo and the San
Francisco earthquake. The changes will
likely affect other lines of insurance, lie said.
  We haven't felt it yet, but the ripples are
                (Please see FLMIC, page 4)





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