The Florida Supreme Court has directed the Florida Bar to adopt rules that would prohibit certain lawyer referral services, and could put an end to companies like 1-800-ASK-GARY and 1-800-411-PAIN.
Under article V, section 15 of the Florida Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court has "exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the admission of persons to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted." As a part of the process of regulating attorney conduct, the Florida Bar proposes rules that address attorney conduct to the court for approval.
In its September 24, 2015 ruling, the court rejected the recommended rule from the Florida Bar, and essentially held that the rule did not go far enough to protect the citizens of Florida from the harms that can come from referrals to attorneys that originate from non-lawyer-owned referral services, such as 1-800-ASK-GARY and 1-800-411-PAIN. The court noted that some of these non-lawyer referral services may disproportionately target racial minorities.
The court discussed the potential pitfalls that could come from the referrals, and cited to a specific instance where an individual from Kentucky was flown down to Florida to receive treatment that her providers in Kentucky believed actually made her condition worse. The court noted that there could be significant detriment to injured parties who are not familiar with their legal rights and with the medical benefits available to them.
The court also discussed the Florida Bar's Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services' findings and reviewed a newspaper article from a South Florida periodical. As a result of this information, the court recognized that the public interest would best be served by having stricter prohibitions on non-lawyer-owned referral services. The court then ordered the Florida Bar to propose a new rule on this issue by May 24, 2016.
The full court opinion can be found here. Thorpe & Thorpe, P.A. encourages everybody to review their potential lawyer's skills and experience and make their own decision.