The Florida Bar’s Vision 2016 Bar Admissions subgroup, as part of a broader goal of addressing the long-term challenges facing the legal profession, has proposed The Florida Board of Bar Examiners consider a rule allowing admission by motion for out-of-state lawyers as long as Florida lawyers have reciprocity for admission to practice in other states.
The proposed rule would allow a lawyer in good standing from another jurisdiction who has practiced five out of the last seven years to apply to become a member of The Florida Bar without examination if all other requirements are met, including a character and fitness review.
Admission by motion is currently available in 40 jurisdictions, including New York, the District of Colombia, Arizona, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.
Admission to these jurisdictions, without a bar examination, is available in one of the three following forms: admission by motion without a reciprocity requirement; admission by motion with a reciprocity requirement and admission by motion based on similar provisions.
The ABA reports that over the past five years, on average 8,000 lawyers have requested admission by motion annually with applications for admission to the District of Columbia being the most popular.
States that do not have admission by motion are Hawaii, California, Nevada, Montana, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The admission by motion/reciprocity idea has generated attention across the state and other recommendations from the Vision 2016 committees are also expected to generate discussion in the coming months, such as legal education, technology, access to legal services and “do-it-yourself” non-lawyer legal services.
Renowned legal futurists such as Richard Suskind have predicted the legal profession is likely to see more dramatic changes in the coming 20 years than it has seen the past 200 years.
The JBA Board of Governors is keeping informed and educated on these issues and we encourage you to do the same.
For the Aug. 19 JBA board meeting, we reviewed documents relating to the proposal of admission by motion/reciprocity including two recent articles in the Daily Record featuring comments and suggestions from JBA leaders Michael Fox Orr, Jake Schickel, John DeVault III, and Mike Freed.
These articles provide an overview of the pros and cons of implementation of this proposal and I encourage you to review them.
I also strongly encourage you to read and consider the Vision 2016 Bar Admissions Subgroup Preliminary Report of the Multijurisdictional Practice — State Focus Committee available on The Florida Bar website.
I have read all of the above and also spoken to and informally polled JBA members on this issue.
The JBA Board of Governors is also aware of the actions taken by four of the Metro Florida Voluntary Bar Associations, which are as follows:
• The Clearwater Bar Association (opposes proposal);
• The Palm Beach Bar Association (conducted a survey of its members which shows that some members are pro and some against the proposal)
• The Broward County Bar Association (opposes proposal)
• The Hillsborough County Bar Association (conducting a Town Hall meeting with Florida Bar President Ray Abadin)
The Florida Bar will hold an open hearing Sept. 18 at its fall meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott for members to discuss admission by motion/reciprocity.
Additional discussion and a vote on the issue is expected to take place at The Florida Bar Board of Governors’ meeting October 15-16.
If it passes, the Board of Bar Examiners and the Florida Supreme Court must also approve the proposal.
After considering the information available and the complexity of this issue on which our members have various strong views, the JBA Board of Governors is not taking a position at this time on the proposed rule of admission by motion/reciprocity, and we are continuing to consider the information available.
We strongly encourage JBA members to send their comments expressing their position to [email protected].
The Florida Bar Board of Governors, in making their recommendation, will consider the comments received by the Vision 2016 Bar Admissions subgroup.