The mission of the Admiralty Law Committee is to keep informed and to educate legal professionals in Florida concerning developments in the field of admiralty and maritime law. In the past, this has also included occasionally advising the legislature concerning maritime legal issues.
The committee has recently completed a fourth edition of the Maritime Law Practice and Procedures Manual, which is intended for the maritime practitioner. While this manual puts emphasis on issues specific to Florida, it is designed to be a helpful tool for anyone interested in admiralty law. The manual is published by Lexis/Nexis.
In conjunction with the publication of the new manual, the committee is also planning a one-day seminar on general admiralty and maritime law and issues to be scheduled in the early fall of 2005.
Despite a protracted year for meetings due to the hurricane season of 2004, the committee had an active lineup of speakers and presentations this year which has included programs on vessel documentation, the legal aspects of hurricane and emergency preparations as they concern maritime interests, the legal aspects of arbitration clauses in employment contracts, as well as a presentation on issues concerning electronic filing and its effect on the maritime practice.
MARK ERCOLIN, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which meets monthly, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee's Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation (Sixth Edition, updated May 2004). The handbook is designed to provide both a quick and easy reference to filing and substantive guidelines through various checklists and examples, as well as more in-depth discussions of particular types of advertising regulations and recurring situations. The handbook is reviewed and updated by Bar staff with the input of the committee to provide an excellent up-to-date guide to Florida's lawyer advertising regulations. It also includes the latest changes to the advertising rules, set forth in the Supreme Court's Rules Regulating The Florida Bar--Amendments, 820 So. 2d 210 (Fla. 2002), and Rules Regulating The Florida Bar--Amendments, 875 So. 2d 448 (Fla. 2004). These most recent Supreme Court changes to the advertising rules expanded the types of images that are allowed in television advertisements and also applied the size requirement for disclosures in attorney advertisements to all required disclosures under Rule 4-7.2, Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News from time to time, entitled Advertising Update and published articles explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules in May 2004. The committee further updates the Bar's Web site with new material and information when needed in order to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in complying with the attorney advertising rules.
The committee has been active in assisting other Bar committees this year. Members of the Standing Committee on Advertising worked with the Professional Ethics Committee as participants in subcommittees dealing with issues affecting both legal ethics and lawyer advertising. The committee made several recommendations regarding changes to the advertising rules, many of which were approved by the Board of Governors and enacted by the Supreme Court in May 2004. The committee has also served in an advisory capacity to the new statewide grievance committee on lawyer advertising, assisting the members of the new grievance committee in understanding the advertising rules and the advertising review process. Committee members have also actively participated in the Advertising Task Force 2004, which is conducting a comprehensive review of the Bar's current advertising rules and has made recommendations to the Board of Governors regarding proposed changes to these rules to make them clearer and easier for Bar members to follow.
By far the most time-consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if the staff's interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
As in previous years, the committee has taken an active role in ensuring that lawyer advertising in Florida is filed with The Florida Bar and properly reviewed. When complaints are filed with the Bar regarding advertisements, committee staff reviews the ads to determine whether they have been filed and whether they comply with the Bar's advertising rules. Attorneys who have not filed their ads as required by Rule 4-7.7 must pay a $250 late filing fee approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1999 and may be subject to further discipline from the Advertising Grievance Committee.
The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I would like to thank each of our committee members for their tremendous contribution to the work of the committee.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Dr. Solomon Badger, who has been an active participant in our work this year, DEUP division director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff headed by ethics counsel, Elizabeth Tarbert. Without the participation and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
SHANE T. MUNOZ, Chair
In August 2004, The Florida Bar, based on a recommendation from the Program Evaluation Committee, approved an interim year for a new substantive law committee, the seventh of such committees along with Admiralty, Aviation, Computer, Education, Eminent Domain, and Media. Our initial proposal was submitted to The Florida Bar Program Development Committee in November 2003. Our current membership is 59 members, representing attorneys from throughout Florida. Our first full formal meeting was held October 29, 2004, at Nova Southeastern University School of Law. At that time, we were organized into five subcommittees including a meeting and CLE subcommittee, a membership and outreach committee, a Web siteand quarterly newsletter development and design committee, an attorney referral network subcommittee, and a compliance with Florida Bar requirements subcommittee.
The second full committee meeting was held in Miami on January 20, 2005, in conjunction with the midyear meeting of the Bar. At that meeting, we put on an educational program relating to animal cruelty cases as seen from both sides of the aisle (state attorney's office and public defender's office) although we were unable to meet the time requirement for obtaining CLE certification based on our initial approval date as a standing subcommittee by The Florida Bar.
The next formal full meeting of the committee is scheduled to be held on June 24, 2005, in Orlando in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Bar. A business meeting is planned for late afternoon and we do intend to offer a full-day program of continuing legal education in animal law as it pertains to Florida and have just received approval to offer and issue CLE credits. All of the speakers and topics have been selected with a view toward helping practicing attorneys in Florida to both understand and potentially incorporate animal problem related cases into their practice. All topics should be highly relevant and identifiably practical for most general practitioners and those that are not already highly specialized.
As there has been a great deal of work to do because we are a new committee, we have held several additional "planning meetings," primarily among the officers and subcommittee chairs, every month or two since our inception. These meetings are open to all members but are primarily dedicated to all of the many business tasks inherent in the formation of any new substantive law committee.
The committee does have a Web site on The Florida Bar Web page and this currently contains our mission statement along with the information contained in our application for committee status and has some text files relating to animal law topics and issues.
We have recently added one additional standing subcommittee, an award subcommittee, whose mandate is to develop some criteria and procedures for setting up and making an award to an individual within Florida felt by the entire committee to be worthy of recognition in any single year for his or her contribution to animal law in Florida.
The committee is pleased to be one of the newest entries among the many states who have organized and recognized animal law committees and...