Ad rules, no new fees budget on the agenda

first_img April 1, 2005 Regular News Ad rules, no new fees budget on the agenda Board of Governors also to take up revenue splits and gay adoptions at its Tallahassee meeting Proposed new advertising rules and a possible alteration of how revenues are split between the Bar and its sections are on the agenda for the Bar Board of Governors’ April 8 meeting. The board is also expected to revisit the gay adoption issue, although in a somewhat different form.And if that won’t keep it busy, the board will get the 2005-06 budget — which calls for no increase in annual fees — to consider and pass on first reading.The Advertising Task Force 2004 has been working since early last year reviewing Bar ad rules and taking public testimony. The task force presented its final recommendations to the board at its January 28 meeting.Among the recommendations, the task force proposed a voluntary ad screening program. That would give lawyers immunity from prosecution if they submit their ads for review and don’t publish until the Bar approves them, and then a rule violation was later discovered. The task force also recommended against a proposal that would have extended the 30-day waiting period for direct mail solicitations to criminal and traffic cases.Board members, though, have said they may consider alternatives to both of those proposals. One would be a requirement that all ads that contain more than basic, approved information be submitted to the Bar for approval before those ads are published or aired. Some also favored extending the direct mail solicitation waiting period to criminal and traffic cases.Another potential point of debate is the task force’s recommendation that lawyer Internet Web sites be treated as information provided at the request of a potential client. That would exempt the sites from the ad rules, although they would still be bound by general rules that prohibit them from being false, misleading, or deceptive.But some board members have said they favor regulating Web sites, likening them to Yellow Pages ads and saying in a technological age they could be even more heavily used by consumers in the future.The issue with the sections is over how revenues for CLE courses are split and how the Bar supports section operations in other ways. A report to the board in January noted that the Bar loses hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in direct and indirect administrative support for the sections, more than is made from CLE profits. The report also noted that a couple years ago, the Bar lost more than $200,000 on section CLE operations, although policies have been changed to make that less likely.Section officials have advocated that there be no change, noting that the Bar — not sections — controls the administrative expenses it is worried about.Board members in January said they are interested in a solution amenable to the sections, but want the Bar to lose less money in supporting sections. They noted that most Bar members do not belong to sections and it’s not fair to use their membership fees to extensively subsidize sections.No less contentious is the issue of gay adoption. At its December meeting, after extensive debate, the board rejected 31-13 a request by the Family Law Section, Public Interest Law Section, and Equal Opportunities Law Section to support the repeal of a state law that bans homosexuals from adopting.Under Bar policies, once a proposed position has been rejected, a section cannot again request it during that legislative year.But the Family Law Section is now seeking permission to lobby for a more limited bill that has been introduced in the House. Instead of repealing the ban, it would provide that the statute did not apply in the case where a foster parent or parents had cared for the child for 36 months, had formed a bond, and a judge found it was in the best interests of the child.A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, but without the 36-month requirement.Under Bar policies, sections — which have a voluntary membership and use their own money — are given a wide latitude on issues they want to lobby. Sections, though, must identify that they are representing only the section and not the entire Bar and cannot take a position opposite a Bar-wide position.Another legislative issue, tabled at the last meeting, is a proposal from the Bar’s Special Committee on Constitutional Amendments. The committee recommended that all amendments, whether proposed by amendment or by initiative petition, be reviewed by the Supreme Court to ensure they belong in the state’s basic governing charter. According to the committee’s motion, those amendments should deal with existing sections of the constitution, with the structure of state government, or basic rights of citizens.On fiscal matters, the board will get its first look at the 2005-06 budget. Tentative numbers project that no increase in annual fees will be needed. Tentative numbers project that the Bar will have an income of around $30.5 million with a budget surplus of around $500,000.The board will pass the budget, with any amendments, on first reading and then publish in the Bar News. Any comments from Bar members will be considered at the board’s June 3 meeting, when the budget will receive final approval and then be forwarded to the Supreme Court.Activities related to the April 8 meeting will include the Supreme Court’s annual pro bono awards, presented at the court the day before the board meeting. Also, Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Pariente is expected to make brief remarks at the board meeting. Ad rules, no new fees budget on the agendalast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *