A group of lawyers has come up with a plan to improve the availability of free legal services to poor Floridians: hike the dues that attorneys pay each year to the state Bar Association.
The $100 increase would be the first dues hike since 2001, but represnts a hefty 37 percent boost from the current $265 that lawyers pay each year.
The Florida Bar opposes the proposal. Instead, the organizations wants to provide a $6 million "bridge" loan over two ears to ensure services continue while a long-term solution that isn't so heavily reliant on attorney dues is established.
Proponents of increasing the Bar fees, including former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, filed the “Access to Justice Petition” with the Florida Supreme Court Monday. The court has already certified the matter as a "high profile case" that will garner significant public attention.
The case, No. 14-1165, does not have any hearings scheduled yet. The petitioners hope to have the matter resolved in time for dues to be increased for 2015.
Bar President Eugene Pettis said during a media call Monday that he doesn't disagree that better funding for legal services is needed, but does not think increasing attorneys' annual dues is the answer.