Attorney discipline. Photo:

The Florida Supreme Court’s latest edits to the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar appeared to echo its recent tough stance on issues like professionalism and ethics. The Florida Bar proposed changes to more than 25 existing rules, most of which were approved and will go into effect on Mar. 5.

The court agreed to amend Rule 3-7.2, which governs procedures for criminal professional misconduct, clarifying that attorneys must report pending criminal charges and subsequent judgments to the bar.

But the justices wouldn’t agree to make it optional for the bar to file a notice of determination or judgment of guilt to the court if a lawyer is found guilty of a felony — a duty that’s currently mandatory.

The bar was concerned that it had no discretion in cases where a lawyer was found guilty of a felony that requires no intent, according to the opinion, which argued that those circumstances are outweighed by the seriousness of a felony charge.

The court also amended Rule 6-10.3 to make professionalism a mandatory course for lawyers in continuing legal education, who will have to select the course as one of five credit hours covering legal ethics per three-year period.

Justices tacked on three extra hours of required continuing education credits for inactive lawyers seeking reinstatement within three to five years of leaving — increasing them from 30 to 33. Disciplined or retired lawyers hoping to come back within three to five years will need to complete 11 hours per year of inactivity, rather than 10.

The same goes for paralegals, whose required credit hours were bumped up from 30 to 33 to make room for technology training, according to the opinion. It also edited the number of required credit hours for those who’ve re-registered or returned after having their license revoked, bumping it up from 10 to 11.


Read the full court opinion and updated bar rules:


More Florida Supreme Court stories:

‘A Lot of Ammunition’: Ruling Could Open the Door for Attorney Fees

When Is It OK to Pay Fact Witnesses? Florida Justices Weigh In