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January 25, 2018 | All Manage Your Practice Topics

How The Florida Bar Can Help You Run A Better Practice


By Karla J. Eckardt, Practice Management Advisor

We’re a month into 2018, and you’re probably still bursting with good vibes and motivation. If running a better practice is on your list of resolutions, we are here to give you the push you need to keep the momentum going. We don’t want your good practice management habits to fall by the wayside. Everything you need to start making 2018 a better year for your practice can be accessed right from The Florida Bar’s website.

To top the list, of course, is our department, LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with The Practice Resource Center (“PRC” formerly known as “PRI” or the Practice Resource Institute); but just in case you aren’t, here’s a quick rundown. PRC provides members with law office management information, guidance, and resources. You may call PRC if, for example, you have questions about opening or closing a trust account, how to maintain trust account records, what steps to take when opening or closing a practice, or general technology tips. On our website you will find sample administrative forms available for download, checklists, CLEs, and more. What’s better, it’s all FREE!

Next is the Bar’s Ethics Department. If you’ve listened to our most recent podcast, ‘Navigating Ethics and Advertising,’ you’ll know that the department covers three programs: ethics, lawyer advertising, and rules. If you have specific questions requiring the interpretation of a rule, or whether something you’re about to do violates a rule, you are encouraged to call the Ethics Hotline. The Ethics attorneys can interpret rules and opinions, whereas PRC cannot. PRC often gets calls from members who are reluctant to speak to an Ethics attorney; they shouldn’t be. Calls to the Ethics department are confidential, unless discussions with ethics are raised as a defense to a grievance, or if public statements about having received ethics advice are made by the inquirer. The Ethics department is here to offer help and guidance, not to get members in trouble.

While we are on the topic of rules and ethics, do you know where to find current Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and important ethics information? On the top right-hand corner of the Bar’s homepage, in between the social media icons and the search icon, you’ll see a link titled ‘Rules & Ethics.’ We recommend that you bookmark the following pages: LegalFuel, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and the Ethics main page where you can access all the ethics opinions, articles, and advertising materials. A quick search on any of these pages may be the difference between matters running smoothly and a Bar complaint.

PRC often gets inquiries from members seeking advice on the practice of specific areas of law, legal procedures, or other legal issues.  While knowing how to practice law is important to running a firm, it is separate from the business oriented and administrative guidance offered by PRC. Instead, we refer any such inquiries to Lawyers Advising Lawyers (LAL). LAL is a FREE service offered to ALL members of The Florida Bar who are confronted with unfamiliar issues within a particular area of law.

The next resource I’d like to highlight is the Bar’s Consumer Information and Pamphlets page. This page is often overlooked by attorneys as it is geared towards consumers, but don’t be fooled. Attorneys can still find useful information that they may need to make available to/for their clients. Pamphlets under the ‘Consumer Pamphlet Information’ tab include links to family law forms, ‘Statement of Clients’ Rights in Contingency Fee Cases,’ an ‘Acknowledgement by Client for Presentation to the Court,’ and more.  The ‘Consumer Forms and Resources’ tab has a page on Living Will Forms that includes a link to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s Health Care Advance Directives. If you have Spanish-speaking clients, most of this consumer information is also available in Spanish.

Lastly, I’d like to remind our readers of the more than 60 free or discounted products and services available on our Member Benefits page.  You may already be using some of the products or services offered as Member Benefits, so why not take advantage of the available discounts?