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.
1)…I think that if lawyers wish cross State lines to practice, that they should have to pass a “basics” test in the area that they’re representing the client in, and should meet a predetermined criteria, set by the Court, to show why that particular lawyer is needed, rather than the client using one already licensed to practice in the area. The number of lawyers in any given area, has nothing to do with the ability to represent their client adequately.
2)…The passing of a Bar exam (correct me if I’m wrong) is to determine that any given person, has the knowledge to adequately represent his/her client. This requirement is different, from State to State, and I’m guessing there’s a reason that it isn’t a “national” exam. One can only guess that the Bar Exam in a State where the majority of cases involve livestock and barnyard animals, might be less stringent than that given in a State with International and Organized Crime cases.