Annual fee season opens — Florida Bar members encouraged to pay online

Annual fee season opens — Florida Bar members encouraged to pay online

When paying fees online, members will not be able to complete the fee process without completing the trust account certificate

The Bar’s annual fee season is underway with the traditional first option of paying online by signing into the Member Portal at member.floridabar.org and clicking the “Pay My Fees” button.

This may be paid via credit card or e-check. It is the quickest and easiest way to pay your annual fees, elect voluntary section memberships, and stay in compliance with Bar rules for trust accounting and pro bono reporting.

There are also several other fee payment options in place:

  • If you want to pay by phone, call 850-561-5831, option 4.
  • Law firms wishing to make a single payment for multiple attorney members should email [email protected] to receive instructions on the Bar’s firm batch procedure. Critical to that process is the requirement that each member must go on the portal, answer the required questions, and then print the completed form to mail in.
  • The Bar will mail pre-printed statements in mid-June to any member who has not paid electronically by late May. Using the pre-printed form and mailing in checks is the slowest option and requires extra processing time, so members should not expect to see their payments posted in their portal account for up to four weeks after transmission.

The Supreme Court added a subdivision (g) to Rule 1-3.6 (Delinquent Members) to make clear that a Florida lawyer who fails to file their annual trust account certificate required in Chapter 5 will be deemed delinquent and ineligible to practice law.

In an effort to eliminate confusion, the Bar has reworded the historical responses to allow members who do not receive or hold funds to select that option, which is considered to be in compliance with the rules. See the three responses available for selection:

  • I am required to maintain a trust account and I am in compliance with the trust account and property safekeeping rules.
  • I am not required to maintain a trust account because I do not receive or hold funds or property from clients or third parties in connection with legal representation in Florida.

If you mark option (3), you must email the Bar’s Lawyer Regulation Division at [email protected] with information explaining the way in which you failed to comply with the trust account and/or the safekeeping property rules.

When paying fees online, members will not be able to complete the fee process without completing the trust account certificate.

The mandatory trust accounting certification and pro bono reporting questions are once again on the front of the paper membership fees statement to make them more conspicuous.

Thousands of Bar members fail to complete the trust accounting certificate each year and are, thus, deemed delinquent and ineligible to practice. Returning to an eligible status requires members to submit paperwork and could also result in an additional fee.

Members with questions on how to answer the trust accounting certification may call the Ethics Hotline at 800-235-8619 or read the trust account certificate instructions.

‘Investing in You’

Roland Sanchez-Medina

Roland Sanchez-Medina, Jr.

Bar President-elect Roland Sanchez-Medina said it is “truly an honor” to serve as the incoming president of The Florida Bar.

“I am humbled to represent our Bar which is a national leader in professionalism, ethics, innovation, and access to justice,” Sanchez-Medina said. “During my term, we will continue to focus on investing in you, our members, to help you with the daily practice of law, and your professionalism and ethics as lawyers, which all serve our core mission of protecting the public and supporting our independent court system.”

He said The Florida Bar is dedicated to adding value to your membership by providing free tools and resources. Visit LegalFuel.com for practice management and technology tools with 211.5 hours of free CLE (including 100 technology hours and 40 hours of ethics), and the career center. The main website, FloridaBar.org, features tools and resources that members may access 24/7 such as professionalism guidance, ethics opinions, member benefits, and much more.

“In addition to paying your Bar fees — which have not increased in 23 years — I strongly encourage you to join or renew your membership in one of the many excellent Florida Bar sections,” Sanchez-Medina said. “Section membership is voluntary and is a truly invaluable way to focus on your specific practice area, allow you to grow personally and professionally in your field, and help you develop a network of colleagues and friends across the state in your practice area.”

In the fee statement, you also have an opportunity to make voluntary contributions to support statewide civil legal aid efforts and help the most vulnerable Floridians through Funding Florida Legal Aid or FFLA (formerly known as The Florida Bar Foundation), to support the work of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, and to advance the profession through the work done by Florida Lawyers Association for the Maintenance of Excellence (FLAME).

“I wish you and your family a happy and healthy year,” Sanchez-Medina said. “Please look into some of the ways we are adding value to your membership with our free resources and take advantage of everything The Florida Bar offers to support you. I’m looking forward to serving you in the next Bar year.”

Originally published at https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/fee-season-story/

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