first_imgBoard to debate advance funding issues in February The sticky issue of how to advise Florida Bar members whose personal injury clients might want or need “advance funding” financing is expected to be resolved at the Board of Governors February 1 meeting in Tampa.The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics is scheduled to make its final recommendation on the issue and board members, citing the importance of giving guidance to inquiring lawyers, have said they expect to act.Advance funding is a growing industry where companies give personal injury plaintiffs money in exchange for a part of the eventual expected settlement or verdict. Interest rates have run 100 to 200 percent and more on some of the transactions, but the companies get paid only if there is a recovery.The matter began with a requested advisory opinion from the Professional Ethics Committee, which said lawyers could tell clients about advance funding but not issue a letter of protection to the advance funding company.The BRCPE, at the board’s October meeting, recommended approving the opinion, but changing it to say lawyers could issue letters of protection. Board members raised several questions and postponed a decision to do more research.At its November 30 meeting, the BRCPE reported that an Ohio appellate court had ruled advance funding schemes were loans and illegal because of the usurious rates charged. The committee asked to have until the February 1 meeting to continue its research.In the meantime, the committee and board said they would tell Bar members that the issue was still pending and about the Ohio decision, and advise them to use their best judgment when dealing with clients about advance funding. (See story in the December 15 Bar News. )On a related ethics matter, the board is expected to review proposed new Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics and Procedures for Issuing Advisory Opinions Relating to Lawyers Advertising and Solicitation. (See story above.)Two items included in the rewrites are clarifying that the board can request an advisory opinion from the Professional Ethics Committee and specifying that the board can issue its own ethics advisory opinion.The board will also get an update on legislative activities. The legislature will be completing the second week of its 2002 regular session when the board meets. The session is expected to focus on reapportionment and budget issues.Several reports are scheduled for the meeting, including from the City County and Local Government Law; Equal Opportunities Law; Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law; General Practice, Solo and Small Firm; Labor and Employment Law; and Tax Law sections.Fifth District Court of Appeal Judge Jacqueline Griffin will update the board on activities of the Judicial Management Council, and former Bar President Ben Hill will report on ABA matters. Board to debate advance funding issues in Februarycenter_img January 15, 2002 Regular Newslast_img read more