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The Florida Bar Is Considering Making Admission of Out-of-State Attorneys Easier

The Florida Bar Is Considering Making Admission of Out-of-State Attorneys Easier

By: Beatriz McConnell

Eight years ago I was a fresh faced lawyer-to-be, preparing to sit for the Florida Bar exam so that I could: (1) become a grown up, (2) wear a suit and look like a grown up, and (3) make a closing argument like the ones you see in the movies that brings everyone to tears. While I do have a nice suit collection, I’m still working on (1) and (3), but I digress. The point is that three years of preparation led me to two days of legal Olympics for the honor and great responsibility of being a licensed Florida attorney, and I would not have it any other way. The same cannot be said for the Florida Bar, which is considering eliminating the Florida Bar exam as a requirement for admitting out-of-state attorneys to practice in Florida.

The Florida Bar is considering reciprocity, which would allow out-of-state lawyers, who have practiced for five of the last seven years and are in good standing, to apply to the Florida Bar without taking the state exam. While the benefit of reciprocity is that Florida lawyers could practice in other states, it would be a blow to Florida’s already over-saturated legal market. And the last thing we need is an influx of lawyers who are unfamiliar with Florida law.

A couple of weeks ago, I and the other attorneys at Englander Fischer sent letters to the members of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners asking them to vote against any measure that would make reciprocity a reality. On July 28, the president of the Florida Bar announced that no action had been taken regarding the issue just yet, and that the topic of reciprocity has only arisen as part of a broader analysis conducted by a Florida Bar Board of Governors sub-committee. In the analysis, the members of this sub-committee suggested reciprocity would be a beneficial way to improve attorney mobility.

There are already over 101,000 licensed Florida attorneys that are struggling to keep their heads above water. Several attorneys have been unemployed since passing the Bar years ago, while others have hung up their own shingle and are hanging on by a thread. “Improved mobility” is not going to solve these issues, and it could very well end up doing just the opposite.

While the topic of reciprocity has not yet gone to vote, it is still very possible that it could become a reality. This means it is more important than ever for attorneys in this state to make their opinions known before the deciding powers.

Let’s face it, you can be too rich, too thin, and there can be too many lawyers.

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