Supreme Court of Florida issues opinion implementing Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida implementing a Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints.  The Florida Supreme Court’s opinion is In re: Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints, No. SC13-688 (June 6, 2013) and is online at:  The new Code is appended to the Court’s opinion.

The Court’s opinion noted that the issue of civility/professionalism has been studied for many years (since at least 1989) and that the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism had submitted a study concluding that “further integrated, affirmative, practical and active measures are now needed.”

The opinion also stated that “(o)ver the years, we have come to understand that professionalism or acceptable professional behavior is not simply a matter of character or principles nor is it simply an issue of rule following or rule violating.  To the contrary, unacceptable professional conduct and behavior is often a matter of choice or decision making. Therefore, we accept the proposal of the Professionalism Commission to create a structure for affirmatively addressing unacceptable professional conduct.  This first step admittedly contains small initial measures designed to firmly encourage better behavior.”

Bottom line:  As I have indicated in previous Ethics Alerts, the Florida Supreme Court has been very active in addressing the professionalism of Florida lawyers both in and out of Bar disciplinary matters and the implementation of this Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints is a manifestation of those continued efforts.  In my experience, the reporting of professionalism complaints is very infrequent and circuit lawyer professionalism committees are vastly underutilized.  I would encourage Florida lawyers to consider using the professionalism committee as a step toward resolving such issues.

Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice 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

About jcorsmeier

Joseph A. Corsmeier is an “AV” rated attorney practicing in Clearwater, Florida. He concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of defense of attorney disciplinary matters before The Florida Bar, attorney admission matters before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and professional license and disciplinary matters before the Boards of the State of Florida. He provides expert analysis and opinion on conflict of interest and other attorney disqualification and legal malpractice issues and he testified as an expert in the Florida courts. He served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1986 to 1990 where he prosecuted felonies exclusively from June 1987, and as Bar Counsel for The Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation from 1990 to 1998. He also practices in the areas of estate planning and Medicaid qualification, workers’ compensation, and labor law. Mr. Corsmeier is the author of numerous articles for various bar publications, has spoken at numerous local and statewide seminars on various topics, including ethics and professionalism, and was an instructor of legal ethics for paralegals at Rollins College until the Tampa campus closed. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his J.D. from Mercer University. He is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the Middle District of Florida. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Bar Associations.
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