Florida Bar Asks Lawyers to Stop Freaking Out About Reciprocity

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Following last month’s speech by new Florida Bar president Ramón Abadin in which he floated reciprocity with other states as part of a broader initiative, lawyers in Florida have been freaking out. How bad? From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (quoting a Daily Business Review article that’s behind a paywall):

Abadin and members of the Bar’s board of governors are getting hundreds of emails about the issue—many of them irate. A few are even calling for Abadin’s removal, while others are requesting a referendum of all 101,000 Bar members on the issue.

Abadin and other Florida Bar officers have been downplaying the idea of reciprocity like it’s their full-time job for the better part of a month, trying to reassure lawyers that the bar hasn’t yet done anything. I even received an email yesterday afternoon from my local bar association about reciprocity that started out this way:

Dear Fellow 13th Circuit Lawyers,
We are your representatives to the Board of Governors from the 13th Circuit, and we write to echo the email message you received last week from the President of The Florida Bar and to assure each of you that we recognize the responsibility of representing you and the more than 100,000 lawyers licensed in Florida. We have not nor will we ever advance a recommendation or an initiative contrary to the interests of the lawyers we represent and the public we serve.

Many lawyers are concerned that if reciprocity happens, Florida will be absolutely flooded with lawyers from New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Lawyers who already have established Florida practices with books of business and loyal clients will be forced to compete with New York lawyers down on vacation. Personally I hope that the sheer amount of pushback against reciprocity doesn’t derail the whole broad agenda, which includes things such as unbundling of legal services. Never underestimate the power of angry lawyers to send angry letters.

Featured image: “ Scared male businessman running away from something isolated on white background” from Shutterstock.

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  • Gabriel Munoz-Calene

    The Admission by Motion with a Reciprocity Rule which the Florida Bar is exploring seems like a good idea, and I support it.

    As a Florida lawyer in my first year of practice, it is exciting to see the Bar actively seeking input from its members.

    After reading the Florida Bar’s 2016 Vision Preliminary Report of the Multijurisdictional Practice- State Focus Committee, and watching the FL Bar President’s Installation Speech from June 2015 on youtube, I feel informed on the issue and it seems to be reasonable update in response to the changing times.

    A rule allowing admission by reciprocity admits lawyers from foreign states to the Florida Bar only if the lawyer’s home state bar allows admission of Florida lawyers by a similar rule.

    My two reasons for supporting the rule are: (1) the access to justice crisis where a large portion of the public is not able to afford legal services, and (2) the established legal profession seems generally uninterested in supporting, mentoring, and providing opportunities for new lawyers.

    In the face of these 2 issues, a rule allowing admission by reciprocity may provide the public with greater access to legal representation, and may provide new lawyers with greater opportunities to practice throughout the nation.

    Of course, I am open to hearing the objections others may have to this proposed rule. There will certainly be unintended consequences, and I am willing to change my mind in the face of a compelling argument.

    I think the deciding factor for me is the Florida Bar’s open and forward thinking tone.

    Florida Bar president Ramón Abadin calls for an embrace of technology and a return of the legal profession to its role as a source of trusted advisors. He say, “technology gives us the opportunity to practice our craft – To give advice to our customers…we need to go back to being counselors”

    The Bar has announced an Open Hearing in Tampa on September 18 to discuss admission by motion/reciprocity. I will go there with an open mind and to express my support.

    Link to Vision 2016 report: http://www.floridabar.org/vision2016

    Link to video of President Abadin’s Installation Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQisk0sinnY

  • Eric Cooperstein

    When nations put up trade barriers, people argue that it stifles competition and innovation. Yet lawyers (many lawyers) want to hide behind their own trade barriers, thinking it will protect them from the future. The future will happen. They can get on board or get rolled over, marginalized, or just ignored.