Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent approval by The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors (BOG) of an amendment to Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5(f) related to extraordinary liens in contingency matters. I previously blogged about the proposed revisions to Bar Rule 4-1.5(f) in my 6/6/13 and 9/5/13 Ethics Alerts.
At its meeting on December 4, 2015, the BOG waived second reading of the proposed rule and took final action and the proposed rule amendment will be filed in the existing case: In Re: Amendments to Rule Regulating The Florida Bar 4-1.5 – Fees and Costs for Legal Services, Case No. SC14-2112 on January 15, 2016, pursuant the Supreme Court’s order in that case.
The BOG had previously approved an amendment to the rule allowing the retention of attorneys to handle medical and other liens under a reverse contingency fee with the consent of the client; however, the Florida Supreme Court rejected that rule amendment and opined that it is the responsibility of the lawyer as part of the original contingency contract to resolve the liens.
The rule amendment that was approved by the BOG on December 4, 2015 addresses the use of lien modification attorneys at the end of a personal injury or wrongful death case to handle negotiations over extraordinary liens.
Under the proposed amendment, attorneys can be employed in extraordinary cases with full disclosure and written approval of the client and with a judge’s approval. The judge would also be authorized to review and adjust the fees both of the main tort attorney and attorneys handling the liens.
Bottom line: As I previously stated, it is the general practice of lawyers in Florida to resolve client liens on behalf of the client as part of the representation; therefore, this revision will not generally impact lawyers in most cases; however, if there are extraordinary circumstances, the proposed rule revision would require the client to give written approval the retention of the attorney to handle the extraordinary liens. A judge would also have to give approval and would be authorized to review and adjust the fees both of the main tort attorney and attorneys handling the liens.
Be careful out there!
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670