The Florida Bar is in the middle of a growing fight over the future of law practice in the state. The Bar is pushing its “Vision 2016” agenda, which includes taking long hard looks at things like computers, non-lawyer licensing, and reciprocity with other states. Florida’s lawyers are pushing back, so much so that the Bar has had to ask them to stop freaking out. In an effort to smooth the waters, the Florida Bar has hired a public relations firm to sell its message of “prepar[ing] today’s lawyer for tomorrow’s practice” to its own members, to the tune of $96,000.00. Before you say “well that seems like a lot of money” (and it is), consider that the Florida Bar’s operating budget for 2015-2016 is over $75,000,000.00.
The approved marketing proposal is thick with PR-speak phrases like “identify opportunities to leverage existing marketing materials,” “help ‘seed’ stories for immediate coverage,” and “shape our narrative moving forward.” The prior proposal was apparently even thicker with jargon:
The final draft of the Miami firm’s proposal kept the story ideas but deleted references to Abadin and the “forward-looking agenda.” Renee Thompson, who chairs the communications committee of the Bar’s governing board, said the proposal was changed to make it clear that the board, not Abadin, had hired the firm. As for the phrase “forward-looking agenda,” she said it was removed because “we didn’t know what that meant.”
The Bar has planned town hall meetings in cities across the state, as well as a member forum in Tampa, in order to give lawyers a chance to voice their complaints in person rather than through angry letters. Maybe hiring a PR firm will help the Bar advance its message, but right now it just seems to be making things worse.
Featured image: “Business man pointing to transparent board with text: Plan B” from Shutterstock.