Isolated on the island of Florida.

Author:Coleman, Gregory W.
Position:President's page

Tear down the anti-reciprocity wall that keeps Florida lawyers from practicing in other states without taking that state's bar exam-and vice versa.

Or, leave that wall standing and isolate ourselves on the island of Florida that keeps our lawyers from going elsewhere to practice.

When I travel the state, that's a hot topic among our members. Personally, I'm not ready to commit to my view because it's too complicated for a "yes" or "no" response.

But Bar leaders are having this conversation, and in order to properly assess the pulse of our members, Florida lawyers need to be educated on the issues and talk to their Board of Governors members about their feelings.

In late 2014, when The Florida Bar conducted a Vision 2016 commission survey of 1,148 Florida Bar members in the areas of bar admissions and legal education, we learned that 77 percent of respondents favor, and 11 percent oppose, a rule change that would allow them to become a member of another state bar without taking the bar exam (but meeting other requirements) in that state.

But that 7-to-1 ratio dropped to a 2-to-1 ratio when the question was flipped: "Do you favor or oppose allowing a member from another state bar to become a member of The Florida Bar without taking the bar examination (but meeting other requirements). Sixty-one percent favored, while 30 percent opposed.

While many don't want more lawyers practicing in Florida, we want to be able to go elsewhere and practice.

"Bar exams pose a significant barrier to entry, which prevents attorneys from migrating to states where there is a demand, or away from states with an excess of attorneys," one Florida lawyer in favor wrote in the survey.

Taking the polar position, another survey respondent wrote: "Every retiring lawyer from up North will come down and practice in their retirement years. We'll be flooded."

It's an intriguing dichotomy with no easy answers, but we need to look at the trends and at least agree to think about it.

Do you favor or oppose allowing...

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