Category Archives: Florida Bar Chapter 23, Registered Online Services

Florida Bar files Petition with Florida Supreme Court for approval of “Registered Online Service Provider Program”

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

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

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Filed under 2020 Florida Bar non-lawyer Registered Online Service Provider Program, Florida Bar, Florida Bar Board of Governors online legal provider registration program, Florida Bar Chapter 23, Registered Online Services, Florida Bar non-lawyer Registered Online Service Provider Program, Florida Supreme Court, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Uncategorized

The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors votes to recommend a voluntary registration program for online legal service providers

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Florida Bar Board of Governors (BOG) decision to recommend a voluntary registration program for online legal service providers.

The BOG voted unanimously at its meeting on September 20, 2019 to approve “Chapter 23, Registered Online Services”.  The program was first considered by the BOG Committee on Technologies Affecting the Practice of Law and, if implemented, would allow online legal service providers to market themselves as “Registered with The Florida Bar” if they agree to follow certain requirements, including submitting to the jurisdiction of Florida for the resolution of consumer complaints.

According to Florida Bar President, John Stewart, the proposed program would apply to entities that are “already operating in a largely unregulated environment”.  The program would also require online providers to provide The Florida Bar with copies of all consumer complaints, indicate how they were resolved, and provide a certification that the provider understands that the “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 have either been approved by the Florida Supreme Court or reviewed and approved by lawyer and a member of The Florida Bar. The registered online legal service providers would also be required to advise consumers of the type of form that they are providing.

The BOG was scheduled to take final action on the proposal at the July 2019 meeting in Key Largo; however, this was postponed due to a lack of time. The proposed program was also publicly noticed multiple times and received no comments. The proposed program will now be sent to the Supreme Court for consideration and potential implementation.

Bottom line:  This proposed program to related “online legal service providers” is voluntary (and would presumably create a safe harbor if the requirements were followed); however, it may also be a step toward the actual regulation of such entities.  In addition, if the program is approved by the Florida Supreme Court, the online entities could market themselves as “Registered with The Florida Bar” if they follow the program requirements, including submitting to the jurisdiction of Florida for the resolution of consumer complaints  This may provide an incentive for such entities to participate in the program.

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

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Attorney Ethics, Florida Bar, Florida Bar Board of Governors online legal provider registration program, Florida Bar Chapter 23, Registered Online Services, Florida Supreme Court, Florida voluntary online legal providers program, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Uncategorized