Recently, The Florida Bar heard pros and cons at a public forum regarding a controversial recommendation to let lawyers from other states to practice in Florida without taking the Florida Bar exam. As Susan Taylor Martin reported, proponents of this reciprocity say that it makes sense in a mobile society and would benefit consumers, especially those with legal matters that cross state lines. However, most of the commentary from Florida lawyers has been negative. Tampa Attorney Dennis Alvarez, a former Hillsborough County Chief Judge, states “It’s a horrible proposal that’s basically flooding the market with lawyers.” Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis said “I think it’s absolutely the worst thing that could happen to the citizens of Florida.”
A Bar committee determined that erecting barriers to cross border practice was no longer practical in today’s mobile society. An increase in competition was not a principled reason for continuing such barriers. Furthermore, it stated, “Our own members need and deserve the ability to serve their clients in other states, or move to other states without having to retake a bar exam.” The final decision rests with the Florida Supreme Court.