UPDATE 3/30/17 9:00 A.M. : The amended rule of professional responsibility was filed with the Florida Supreme Court earlier this morning.
As you know, Judge Laurel Lee and I presented the Collaborative rules to the Florida Supreme Court last Thursday. Earlier, the Court issued a unanimous opinion in which it requested that The Florida Bar and the Family Law Rules Committee file an amendment to our suggested rule of professional responsibility or another professional conduct rule which requires Collaborative attorneys to give an estimate to their clients before commencing the process of the fees for the attorney, mental health professional, and financial professional. We were given until May 16, 2017 to file the amendment(s) with the Court, but my goal is to file the amendment(s) as quickly as possible, preferably before the end of this month.
I personally do not believe that what the Court has asked us to do is appropriate, viable or enforceable, but if you watched the oral argument, you know that this was clearly an issue for them. In the long run, the goal should be to have the rules adopted so the statute can go into effect. Judge Lee and I discussed the possibility of the Court asking for such an amendment immediately after the oral argument, so it did not come as a surprise to us. What came as a surprise is how quickly the Court acted. This seems to indicate that the Court will adopt Collaborative rules, but they may slightly amend them. We will suggest reasonable language for the estimated fees that does not place an unreasonable burden on attorneys. I will try to convince The Florida Bar and the Family Law Rules Committee to argue to the Court that such a requirement does not make sense, it does not actually provide any additional protection to the public and that if such a rule applies to Collaborative attorneys, there is no reason why the same rules should not apply to every attorney in every area of the law. I am hopeful that The Bar will be concerned about the amendment that the Court has requested.
I am in the process of finding out what the procedure will be from here. For instance, will people be able to make comments to the Court about the suggested amendment? If so, I will ask our FACP members to weigh in on the subject and we may be able to get former Collaborative clients to share their opinions with the Court. We will see how this develops in the very near future.
We will keep you posted of further developments as we work hard to provide a better system for Florida’s families.
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