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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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The Florida Bar’s mission

I am writing regarding a March 26 letter to the editor that mentions The Florida Bar (“Injustice system,” Your Views). After reading it, I felt it would be helpful for your readers to have an overview of our work and mission. As an arm of the Florida Supreme Court, the Bar is charged with investigating and prosecuting lawyers who violate the court’s established rules regulating The Florida Bar. Florida’s Supreme Court has constitutional authority for admission of persons to the practice of law, performed by the separate Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and the regulation of those admitted to practice law, performed by The Florida Bar. Neither agency, nor any of their functions, is supported by state tax dollars. Membership in The Florida Bar is mandatory; it is not a trade association, and association is not a part of its name. The Florida Bar’s core functions are to prosecute unethical lawyers; administer a client protection fund to cover certain financial losses clients might suffer because of misappropriation by a lawyer; provide continuing education services for lawyers; and administer a substance abuse program. The Florida Bar provides many other services to members and the public, including publishing legal periodicals, administering a public information program, providing law office management advice and sponsoring conferences and meetings. With more than 95,000 members, The Florida Bar is the third-largest bar in the nation. It is a recognized leader for many of its programs, including the toll-free Ethics Hotline established to help guide lawyers through the ethics difficulties unique to the profession. The Bar also has the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program, which intervenes on behalf of clients who have issues with their attorney’s handling of their cases.
Unfortunately, there are some common misunderstandings about the organization. The Florida Bar does not create rules or laws, does not have authority over court rules of procedure or justice system procedures, and does not have jurisdiction over judges. It does, however, seek to ensure that the judicial system, a coequal branch of government, is fair, impartial, adequately funded and open to all. It strives for equal access to and availability of legal services and encourages and promotes diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the profession and the justice system. The Bar constantly works to improve the administration of justice and advance the science of jurisprudence. It is important work, and I am proud of what we do. To gain a further understanding of the organization, please visit www.FloridaBar.org. It offers a wealth of information for attorneys and members of the public.

Gwynne Young, a Tampa attorney, is president of The Florida Bar.

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