Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Petition filed by The Florida Bar with the Supreme Court of Florida for approval of an “Registered Online Service Provider Program”. The case is In Re: Amendments to Rules Regulating The Florida Bar-Chapter 23 Online Service Provider Program and the Supreme Court case docket is here: http://onlinedocketssc.flcourts.org/DocketResults/CaseByYear?CaseNumber=2077&CaseYear=2019
On December 12, 2019, The Florida Bar filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court requesting the court to approve the creation a voluntary registration program designed to address individuals are increasingly using the internet for their legal needs. The petition proposes the creation of new Chapter 23 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, which would be called the “Registered Online Service Provider Program”. The program permits the voluntary registration of qualified online legal service providers and, according to the Bar, it ii an effort to assure greater access to legal services to better protect the public.
The proposed program was approved by the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors in September 2019 and would permit online legal service providers to market themselves as “Registered with The Florida Bar” if they agree to comply with various regulations, including submitting to the jurisdiction of Florida for the resolution of consumer complaints.
The proposed program would apply to entities which are already operating in a largely unregulated area and would specifically require the registered online providers to provide the Bar with copies of all consumer complaints and state how they were resolved, and agree that “registration and revocation of the registration. . . is solely at the discretion of The Florida Bar.”
The proposed program would also require that registered online providers use only forms that are approved by the Florida Supreme Court, or have been reviewed and approved by Florida Bar attorney. The providers would also be required to notify consumers which form they are providing. The deadline for comments is January 13, 2020 and any comments must be filed directly with the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court, and a copy served on the executive director of The Florida Bar.
Bottom line: This is an early attempt by The Florida Bar to regulate “online service providers” and with the incentive that those which voluntarily comply can state that they are “Registered with The Florida Bar”. We will see if the Supreme Court approves the program and, if so, whether the service providers choose to voluntarily register and comply.
Be careful out there.
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2999 Alt. 19, Suite A
Palm Harbor, Florida
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670
Please note: My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683. All other contact information remains the same.