Bar seeks nonlawyer for its governing board

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  • | 12:00 p.m. December 24, 2003
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Continuing its practice of public involvement, The Florida Bar seeks a new member of the public to serve on its governing board. The board member will replace Vivian L. Hobbs, Ph.D., Tallahassee, whose second two-year term expires June 2004.

Since 1987, two public members have served on the Bar’s 52-member governing board, after the Supreme Court of Florida approved the organization’s request to have nonlawyer representation on the board. Only seven other state bar associations — Alaska, Arizona, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have public members on their governing boards.

A screening committee of The Florida Bar Board of Governors has been appointed to review the applications for the public member position, conduct final interviews and make recommendations to the Bar’s governing board during its April meeting in Pensacola. The Board will then recommend three persons to the Supreme Court of Florida and the Court will appoint one of the three nominees to the Board. The Board of Governors oversees the Bar’s lawyer discipline program, continuing legal education programs, legislative activities and the overall administration of The Florida Bar.

In addition to the two public members on the Board of Governors, one-third of all members of the 81 local grievance committees which hear complaints against attorneys are nonlawyers, as are one-third of the members of the 32 committees which oversee the Bar’s unlicensed practice of law investigations. These committees report to the Board of Governors, which in turn reports to the Supreme Court of Florida.

Board members average 200-300 hours per year on Bar business, depending on committee assignments. Although attorney members of the Bar’s governing board pay all expenses related to their attendance at six board meetings and other events held each year, nonlawyer board members are reimbursed for “reasonable travel and related expenses for attending official bar functions.”

The new board member would serve a two-year term commencing June 25. Public members are not allowed by rule to serve more than two consecutive terms. Most of the Bar’s Board is apportioned according to Florida’s 20 judicial circuits, with attorney members elected by lawyers in their locality. There are four additional out-of-state representations. The other public member currently serving on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors is Solomon L. Badger III, of Jacksonville.

Persons interested in serving as a public member may obtain the application form from the Bar’s website at or call The Florida Bar at (850) 561-5600, Ext. 5757 to request an application. Completed applications should be mailed to 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, Fla. 32399-2300. The deadline for submission of completed applications is Jan. 30.



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