Hire a Client-Recommended Tampa Attorney

tampa attorney

tampa attorneyHire a Client-Recommended Tampa Attorney

Regardless of your personal circumstances and needs, finding a good lawyer can be a complicated and intimidating process. Great attorneys are advocates who fight on behalf of their clients by using effective, reasonable, and legal methods. If you are currently looking for a professional attorney, here is a list of qualities you should look for:

It is important to stay in contact with your attorney during the duration of your case. Your attorney will need information from you — and you may well need information from your attorney. Therefore, you should definitely avoid an attorney who does not answer your phone calls or emails in a timely manner. One of the best ways to test attorneys’ communication and availability is to send them a few questions after the initial consultation. If you do not receive a response within a few days, you would be reasonable in presuming that the law firm may be too busy to vigorously resolve your case.

At our Tampa law firm, our Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore attorneys take very seriously the need to respond quickly and promptly.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Take our client’s.

Here is a review by a very appreciative client about attorney Alan Wagner:

“Mr. Wagner always provides immediate responses in clearly addressing convoluted or unexpected changes in my case as it progressed through the legal process, or just to ease my personal anxiety”.

People Skills

Attorneys are practitioners who work with people and deal with all sorts of situations. The decisions that attorneys make affect people’s lives. Therefore, good attorneys should remain personable and show their clients that they are trustworthy. Their interest in helping their clients should be genuine.

The attorneys at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore are professionals who have these skills, in the eyes of most (and we hope all) of our clients.

Multiple reviews about our Tampa attorneys highlight that the lawyers are trustworthy, attentive, and compassionate, and genuinely do their best to help their clients.

Here is one of the reviews about attorney Alan Wagner and all the Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore lawyers posted on Facebook by a grateful client:

“This law firm has the most compassionate, kind and caring lawyers I have seen ever. Alan Wagner is an especially ethical and professional attorney. I believe all of the attorneys in this firm to be the same. I am so pleased to know of such ethical, knowledgeable attorneys in the Tampa Bay area.”

Experience and Reputation

Most likely, you do not hire an attorney very frequently, and your decision as to which attorney to hire should be made only after you have considered numerous factors.. When you are looking for a lawyer to handle your case, you want to make sure that the attorney is a knowledgeable and experienced professional with an excellent reputation. One of the best indicators of attorneys’ experience and reputation is the number of years an attorney or law firm has been in practice. For example, our Tampa law firm has been open since 1967, and all our attorneys have a well-honed reputation for their experience and skill.

This review about attorney Kevin McLaughlin, from another pleased client, says it all:

“Mr. McLaughlin and the law firm have much experience in specific areas of the law, and he took the time to reply to my questions and concerns relating to a recent accident.” 

Knowledge of the Law

Great lawyers should know their area of legal practice. This knowledge comes from both experience and education. An attorney’s knowledge of specific laws and legal rules, as well as of appropriate trial strategy,can either make or break a case. If you are not sure whether an attorney is knowledgeable enough, you should ask them questions about the previous cases they have handled and the education they received.

The attorneys at our Tampa law firm are knowledgeable practitioners – most are board-certified as experts in civil trial practice — who are able to handle all types of personal injury, medical malpractice, and legal malpractice cases, even the most complicated ones.

This review on Avvo about attorney Jason Whittemore makes this point perfectly:

“He was professional, attentive, and knowledgeable. In addition, because he was able to settle the case without going to court, he didn’t charge me a penny!”

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore – Tampa Attorneys Who Are Speaking Up for the Injured

Do you live in Tampa, FL, or any other city in Florida – or live out of state but were injured in Florida and are looking for a professional and experienced Tampa Personal Injury Attorney? Our law firm and our lawyers with decades of law experience are ready to help. If you have any questions, or you want to schedule an initial consultation, feel free to give us a call.  We would be honored to consult with you at no charge.

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personal injury attorney

personal injury attorneyHire a Tampa Attorney Who Can Help You Get Your Life Back

If you have recently undergone an injury and your life is off the rails, it is time to seek out a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney who understands his or her clients’ needs. When you are considering moving forward with a Tampa law firm, you are looking for a talented team of attorneys with the experience and other quality traits to maximize the best possible results in your case.

Traits to Consider

Like anything else, it is best to know what you are “buying” before you sign on the dotted line. Before you decide on a Tampa law firm, we suggest that you keep a few specific traits in mind.


You are looking for a team of Tampa attorneys that has decades of experience in personal injury cases similar to yours.


When you are seeking out a law firm, you want lawyers who are known to be truthful and who maintain the highest levels of ethics and integrity throughout the entire process.


Another important trait of the Tampa personal injury attorney you are hoping to hire is their ability to communicate. You want a law firm that is going to keep in touch with you and make sure you are aware of what is happening at all times, from start to finish.


It is also important that you, as the client, are made to feel that you at the center of each meeting and turning point. The entire case is built around getting you the compensation that you deserve, based on your condition and the extent of damages. You need to feel that you – your voice, your viewpoints, your needs — are being heard and respected by your attorneys at every stage of the lawsuit.

Reviews and Reputation

A law firm is only as good as its reputation, and reviews from previous clients are one way to judge what that reputation is. It is important to do your own investigation into Tampa law firms, seeing what clients are saying on their websites and social media about their prior experience with the firm.

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore Has Many Client Endorsements

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has earned numerous positive reviews – easily found online – regarding its reputation and experience as a premier law firm in Florida. Through a recent post on Google, a highly satisfied client summed up, in a glowing endorsement, his positive experience in working with Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore partner Jim Guarnieri:

“From the first minute and even now, I felt like he is not just my attorney who works for getting paid, he was my friend.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, you have a Tampa law firm used to putting its clients first. If you are ready to schedule a consultation with Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore and gain representation from a team of attorneys that is knowledgeable and experienced, contact us today. We can be contacted here to give an overview of your case or give us a call at (800) 360-6439. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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tampa personal injury attorney

tampa personal injury attorneyHire a Tampa Attorney with High Ethical Standards

Why an Ethical Standard Matters So Much with an Attorney

When you hire an attorney, you assume that the person is a professional who is highly skilled and will work unerringly for you, the client. You also have every right to assume that the attorney will be ethical as well. Unfortunately, too often, attorneys fail their clients in this area of ethical  behavior and, in some cases, they do so more than once. How is this possible? Isn’t there a system of oversight to prevent this kind of behavior? Yes there is, as attorneys are subject to a disciplinary system when the facts demonstrate that they have acted unethically. However, by the time this process is concluded, the damage for many clients involved may have already been done. So, like so many things that can be costly after the fact, the smartest approach is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. And that involves doing everything possible to ensure that you are hiring an ethical attorney from the beginning.

There are Rules, But They Aren’t Always Followed

Every state has professional rules all licensed attorneys are expected to follow. However, that doesn’t mean that they always do. We’d like to believe that most of our fellow attorneys are highly ethnical – and we actually do believe that to be the case.  But, unfortunately, as in any profession, there are a small percentage of characters that skirt the edge of the envelope and an even smaller number who outright cross the line. If just based on an attorney’s word, a prospective client would have no idea whom they are dealing with aside from references. And some of the best fraudsters are good at separating people from their money – but not living up to their end of the contractual bargain.  Eventually a client will file a complaint against the attorney with the Florida Bar, and an investigation will ensue.  When the conduct warrants it, these attorneys get disciplined.

Every Problem Leaves a Trail to be Found

At first, much of the discipline action may be notices, warnings, official censures, or fines. Once probable cause is found, the discipline stands as a public record that any prospective client can look up and find if they are willing to take the time to do the research. However, many clients who don’t understand the legal industry also don’t know to ask or where to look. Too often, prospective clients rely simply on marketing to pick an attorney. It’s not really much of a surprise then why unethical attorneys still succeed at creating problems.

Leading by an Example of Ethical Service

At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we pride ourselves on maintaining the highest ethical standards – not merely because the rules tell us to do so but because our own sense of professionalism and morality would not allow us to do otherwise. Our disciplinary records are spotless, and we have every confidence that they will remain that way. Though we feel confident that most of our fellow attorneys in the broader profession can claim the same, we are saddened that not every attorney in Florida can stand by such a pledge.  What we are most grateful for is that our clients seem to recognize our commitment to the highest ethical standards, as reflected by the following review:

“Alan is a superb attorney of the highest ethical standards. He is a throw back to the days when an attorney’s word was his bond. Alan always ends up acting in his client’s best interests.”               Martindale Peer Review

A Well-Known Tampa Example You Can Rely On

As a Tampa presence, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has repeatedly performed with the highest ethics possible.This isn’t an empty marketing statement; Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore’s Tampa personal injury attorneys truly believe that their obligation is to represent each and every client as fully as possible, as accurately as possible, consistent with their ethical – and human – obligations to each client.

When seeking to hire an experienced and ethical personal-injury attorney, prospective clients would do well to consider what other clients have reported about Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore. Compare other law firms to Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore’s record and well-earned reputation. We suspect that the list of contenders will grow short, as the challenge mounts to match Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore’s ethical service, much less exceed it. Ultimately, every case – no matter its size or possible recovery amount – matters to you and matters a lot. We want you to know it matters a lot to us, too.

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lawyersTraits to Look for When Hiring An Attorney: Hard Work and Dedication

The unthinkable happened and you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney in Tampa, FL. With nearly half a century of experience, you can rest assured that Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has what it takes to maximize your chances at settlement, mediation, or trial.

Why Focus on Hard Work and Dedication When Choosing an Attorney?

Since 1967, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has measured our success one client at a time. Our countless satisfied clients emphasize our strong work ethic and dedication to speaking up for the injured.

Dedicated to only working with injured plaintiffs, we provide clients with proper representation every time. Our passion for hard work and dedication to justice shows in our customer testimonials.

Nothing Beats a Client Testimonial on Hard Work and Dedication

According to L.,

Kevin McLaughlin is one of the most honest and hard-working people that my husband and I have had the pleasure to deal with. We would both highly recommend him and his whole firm to anyone seeking legal assistance.”

How Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore Can Help

The legal system can feel overwhelming. When you’ve been injured by the actions or inactions of another, there are many difficult days ahead. The personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL at the law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore want to ease some of that burden. Through our hard work and dedication extended to each case, you can rest assured you are in good hands.

“Alan Wagner is a solid advocate of honest, hardworking individuals injured by others’ negligence…. If suddenly injured by another’s disregard or negligence, you need the most ethical, skilled, sympathetic, transparent, and insightful legal advocate to not only stop your losses but to also ensure you are justly compensated for them.” T.B.

If another law firm failed to provide the service you deserve, and their negligence led you to lose your case, we suggest you consult with us to determine if aa legal malpractice lawsuit is in order. If you are in need of a Tampa, FL law firm, reach out to Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore today and we’ll help correct your course.

Where Do We Go from Here?

When you need a personal injury attorney in Tampa FL, contact Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore for a free consultation and allow our years of experience to help you today. Our team is eager to offer the hope you need as you move forward in your journey toward healing.

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good communication

good communicationTraits to Look for in Hiring an Attorney: Good Communication and Responsiveness

In the age of the internet, humanity is accustomed to instant answers, on-demand services, excellent communication pathways, and engaged responsiveness. Especially when personal injuries are involved, clients need to know they have a law firm dedicated to ongoing communication through attorney responsiveness. Since 1967, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has served Tampa with communication and responsiveness in speaking up for the injured

What’s Important When Choosing a Law Firm?

Potential clients can discover whether a law firm is dedicated to good communication and responsiveness by doing a bit of digging online. “A Very Appreciative Client” had this to say about Attorney Alan Wagner.

“After being devastatingly injured from others’ negligence and faced with an extremely disadvantaged legal dilemma as a result, I came across Mr. Wagner’s website and made an office appointment with him…. Over the months that followed and as my attorney, he was outstanding in every way but of considerable noteworthiness was his near immediate responses in clearly addressing convoluted or unexpected changes in my case as it progressed through the legal process, or just to ease my personal anxiety in general, even while he was on vacation in another country.”

Potential clients want to know that they chose a law firm who listens and responds to the unique needs of every case. Focused on speaking up for the injured, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore offers a unique breed of personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL who respond quickly and passionately to clients.

How Can Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore Help You?

Another satisfied client, S., spoke to the communication and responsiveness of Attorney Michael McLaughlin:

“Michael McLaughlin has been my attorney on my case for the last 3 years…. He was available at all hours of the day and evening, had great follow up and kept me looped in on the status of my situation. Michael provided counsel as I had questions. He guided me and helped me understand all steps of the process.”

When you’ve experienced a personal injury, your previous attorney may have failed in these areas. Maybe you experienced negligence or malpractice. Or perhaps you are starting from square one. If you are looking for a Tampa, FL law firm, reach out to Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore today and discover how our decades of experience, good communication, and responsiveness can help you.


understandingTraits to Look for When Hiring an Attorney: Understanding and Compassion

When beginning your search for personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL, there are few traits more important than understanding and compassion. Serving the Tampa, FL area for over 50 years, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore understands the importance of connecting through compassion while serving personal injury clients.

Why Understanding and Compassion?

After the trauma of a personal injury, it is vital for your lawyer to have the ability to perceive your challenges, emotions, and needs. With understanding and compassion, the team at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is known for connecting through compassion while speaking up for the injured and advocating for their best interests.

Former client J. shared her interaction with attorney Michael McLaughlin:

“He understood everything I laid out and expressed genuine compassion for my complex situation. He provided me with options that might help me and provided me with a much better understanding of the risks associated with each option. Mike probably doesn’t even realize how helpful he was and how valuable his consultation was to me. I highly recommend speaking to them if you feel you have a legal malpractice case.”

Another client, D., shared his thoughts about the level of understanding and compassion offered by the team at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore and expressed her appreciation for attorney Michael McLaughlin:

“Michael was very easy to talk with and did not use legal verbiage but explained it very clearly and supported his concerns with clear documentation for my review.”

In this sense, it’s important to find a compassionate lawyer who can focus on the “soft skills,” or the human side of your case, while balancing the “hard skills” found in the intricacies of practicing personal injury law. Many clients find their personal injury cases to be overflowing with emotions. Without compassion and understanding, lawyers may miss opportunities to serve clients well.

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore Is Here for You

Whether you are making your first move in the search for personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL, or you’ve had a traumatic experience with a previous attorney who failed to offer understanding and compassion, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is here for you. Speaking up for the injured is our specialty.

Call us today for a free consultation and let us lead with compassion and understanding as we fight for you.






professionalTraits to Look for When Hiring an Attorney: Professionalism and Ethics

When seeking a Tampa, FL law firm, clients consider some characteristics more important than others. As you may imagine, professionalism and ethics are always at the top of the list.

It’s important to know you have a lawyer who follows the professional and ethical rules and standards that govern the legal profession. Focused on speaking up for the injured, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore exemplifies the professionalism and ethics you need when looking for personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL.

Professionalism and Ethics: Cornerstones in Winning Cases

Anyone can search online to find a local law firm or personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL. But there are certain pathways that lead to discovery of the critical traits that will help win your case.

Outside of your personal interview, researching qualifications and testimonials is important in helping you determine whether your potential attorney has the qualities you are seeking in your legal representation. .

Clients Words Speak Volumes on Winning Traits

At the end of the day, nothing speaks more highly to an attorney’s professionalism and ethics than the client testimonial. After working with Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, F. had this to say about Attorney Alan Wagner:

I would highly recommend him (Mr. Alan Wagner) to anyone who needed an excellent lawyer. He has a wonderful, professional work ethic and a great sense of humor. I am very honored to have had to opportunity to have him as my lawyer.”

Serving the greater Tampa, FL area since 1967, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is a dedicated team of personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL.

L., one of our clients, had this to say about the ethics and professionalism of Attorney Jason Whittemore:

After receiving some horrific dental work, I turned to Jason Whittemore for assistance. He listened to my case, made suggestions and then took action! He was professional, attentive and knowledgeable.”

Next Steps

When you need a law firm with years of specialized experience in speaking up for the injured, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore can help. Give us a call for your free consultation today and discover whether you may have grounds for a legal malpractice case.



knowledge Traits to Look for When Hiring an Attorney: Legal Knowledge and Skills

Though the process of becoming an attorney is pretty standard, no two attorneys are the same. When being represented, it is important to choose someone with the appropriate legal knowledge and skills in order to get the best results. Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, personal injury attorneys in Tampa FL, can explain why these are so important in your case.

Subject Matter Experience

It should go without saying that a tax collection attorney and an injury attorney have vastly differing backgrounds. The skills of speaking with an IRS auditor do not necessarily translate into speaking with a jury. While it may be tempting to consult a “general practitioner” of law, the best results often come from someone who specializes in the relevant area of law.

“Jason Whittemore represented me for a wrongful bankruptcy dispute that required IRS tax knowledge and a substantial amount of money I owed to the IRS among several other complications. After consulting with 1/2 dozen attorneys or so, I realized this was a very specialized case that most attorneys were not willing to take or just not knowledgeable enough. I then met with Mr. Whittemore. He took my case. Mr. Whittemore is a sharp, very responsive, attentive, professional. He always politely spoke the facts. He kept me informed at all times. The end result was that we won.” A.

Recent Experience

New cases are tried and new laws are passed as a regular part of the legal industry. It is important for an attorney to stay relevant to these changes, which can be difficult to do if someone only “dabbles” in that legal area or has been out of practice for a while. At the same time, not every attorney or law firm is equipped with trial lawyers who have the skill and knowledge to actually take a case to the courtroom. Trial-practice rules can be complex and are constantly changing. Electronic filing procedures, alone, have undergone several changes over the past couple of years.

Communication Skills 

Too often, an attorney may be trained and comfortable in talking to judges, juries, and other attorneys, but not in communicating well with their own clients. If you are experiencing legal turmoil, it is important that your attorney can understand how you are being impacted in order to best represent your interests. Also, your attorney needs to be able to translate the legal events into plain language so that you can make the most informed decisions.

I needed legal advice: I called this firm and Alan Wagner took my call immediately….[He] was outstanding, particularly due to the fact that I had never spoken to him prior to today. He even took the time to help me understand some current legal documents that were unclear… knowing that there was no financial gain for him. This type of character speaks volumes! ” Client on Avvo


A long list of happy clients says a lot about a law firm. Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore clients have shared their testimonials on several websites, not just our own.

If your attorney failed to provide these types of services, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore can evaluate if your attorney was negligent in duty and whether or not you have a malpractice case.

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is a Tampa FL law firm with experience in “speaking up for the injured” and can put that to work for you.


experienceTraits to Look for When Hiring an Attorney: Experience and Reputation

It’s not every day you need to hire an attorney. When searching for personal injury attorneys in Tampa, FL, it’s crucial to find a law firm with experience handling the type of case you face. Your attorney’s experience and reputation are two of the top factors to consider when choosing among various law firms. Since 1967, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has built decades of experience as a trusted Tampa, FL law firm with a well-honed reputation for speaking up for the injured.

Why are experience and reputation important when choosing a personal injury attorney?

When you’re on a quest to find a law firm capable of handling the complexities of your case, where do you go for advice on which attorney to hire? There’s no better source of advice than previous clients of that attorney! Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is honored that so many of its previous or current clients have written, directly or online, to recommend the law firm to others. According to S., a local business owner, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has the critical traits needed as you seek a personal injury attorney in Tampa, FL.

“They have justly earned the well-founded reputation as the best of the best.”

What are some examples of experience and reputation when choosing an attorney?

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore has produced many legal landmarks over the years. Chances are, the firm has handled cases very similar to yours. Earning numerous, substantial verdicts and awards for our clients affords an additional layer of confidence that you’re making the right choice when you work with our team of experts.

What does experience and reputation look like in a client testimonial?

This may be your first time needing legal assistance for a personal injury. That’s not the case with Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore. For decades, nothing’s been more valuable than hearing clients share personal testimonials about our team’s experience and reputation. Take the words of another satisfied client, T.

“We couldn’t recommend Michael McLaughlin more highly. He is extremely competent and able in his field.”

How can Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore provide assurance that you’ve made the right choice in a personal injury attorney?

Whether beginning your search for a personal injury attorney or after your attorney failed to provide the help you deserved, you can trust the commanding volume, experience, and authority of one of the most respected personal injury law firms in the nation.

As a top-rated Tampa FL law firm, Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore can evaluate whether your attorney was negligent in his or her representation of you and if you have a legal malpractice case. Speaking up for the injured, we’re ready to discuss your options.

Call us for your free consultation today.


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Bill and Alan

Alan & Bill Wagner

Open Letter to Leaders and Members of The Florida Bar

Re: Protecting the Public and Profession, Not Profits

The Florida Bar should stop telling lawyers how to compete for more money from more clients. If the Bar won’t stop on its own, the Florida Supreme Court should instruct it to.

Under the Florida Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court has the authority to regulate the admission of attorneys to the practice of law, as well as the responsibility to discipline those lawyers who do not properly respect and apply their professional responsibility. The Florida Supreme Court created The Florida Bar to “inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.” Florida lawyers are required to be members of The Florida Bar. It is not a voluntary club we are asked to join or one that we can quit if we do not like what the Bar is doing. If you want to be a lawyer in Florida, you must join The Florida Bar and you must pay its dues.

The Florida Supreme Court did not give The Florida Bar authority to tell lawyers how to make more money from clients; however, The Florida Bar is increasingly dedicating more and more of its resources – and our dues – to the business of lawyering, instead of to the profession of lawyering. Unfortunately, the business of making money for lawyers, influencing from whom lawyers make money, how they capture markets of people who may or may not need a lawyer, and how lawyers convince people to pay for their services, are matters that are frequently at odds with advancing the public interest and the administration of justice. There is a conflict of interest between The Florida Bar’s apparent business goals and the rightful goals of the Florida Supreme Court. This conflict of interest is harmful to the public’s perception of lawyers, the law, the justice system, and the administration of justice. The Florida Bar should leave the business of lawyering to others and rededicate itself to the mission for which it was created by the Florida Supreme Court: the profession of lawyering.

In his outgoing message to members of The Florida Bar published in the June issue of The Florida Bar Journal, Bar President Abadin essentially calls on The Florida Bar to do whatever is possible to help lawyers make more money from citizens who want to live a lawful life but instead are being led to believe, by lawyers and businesses, that they either need legal help or will be in potential danger if they don’t seek (and pay for) legal help.

In The President’s Page, Mr. Abadin dwells on the “competitive challenges” faced by lawyers and on the resistance of “institutional clients to traditionally priced services.” Instead of considering options to make it easier for people to live without needing legal services, the article stresses that “the value of the market” for people who need but can’t afford legal services is estimated at $45 billion dollars. The Florida Bar President then proceeds to suggest how lawyers can capture that market. The article encourages changes to the professionalism rules to make it more profitable and easier for lawyers, and new forms of “legal innovators” run by non-lawyers, to capture “consumers” in “the marketplace.” Lawyers are asked to help The Florida Bar recommend to the Florida Supreme Court that it make “changes necessary to ensure our place in the new marketplace.” The public, though, will see and understand this as an effort by The Florida Bar to get the Court to change the rules of professional conduct so that more lawyers can make more money from more people.

There is nothing wrong with recognizing that “the business of delivery of legal services is in the grip of a transformation.” As President Abadin points out, there are more than 1000 non-lawyer owned companies providing some form of “legal service” to consumers in need of assistance. He specifically mentions Avvo, Legal Hero, and Rocket Lawyer as examples. What is absent is any suggestion that there are ways to regulate the services provided by these companies to protect the public when they provide services that do not require an actual lawyer. There is likewise no suggestion that The Florida Bar should consider ways for lawyers to develop business practices that make their services, if really needed, both professional and profitable. The article instead argues that we should join up with these new and innovative companies — and change our professional rules to allow lawyers to capture the “market” with them.

If The Florida Bar becomes just one more business that focuses on finding ways for its members to make more money from more consumers by new and confusing schemes to “capture” a market, the public perception of the law and of lawyers will suffer. The Florida Bar Journal itself proudly proclaims on the cover of each issue that it is “advancing the competence and public responsibility” of lawyers. The Florida Bar should not add “and maximizing the profits and market share of its members” to its moniker or its mission. That goal – and it is a worthy goal – should be left to voluntary organizations that already exist and to the marketplace itself, not to the Florida Supreme Court or to its representative agent, The Florida Bar.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with lawyers making money, and nothing wrong with businesses trying to develop ways for lawyers to provide needed legal services and be paid for their work. That is capitalism at its finest. The question here is whether the Florida Supreme Court should require all lawyers – as a price of being a lawyer – to join a group with a stated goal of developing ways for its members to make money. Even more troubling is a situation in which some of those potential money-making means, while of benefit to some lawyers, would likely bring harm to other member-lawyers.

The “conflict of interest” threat is not limited to conflicts between lawyers and the interests of the public. Recently, the leadership of The Florida Bar proposed recommendations for rule changes that they claimed are needed because “the business of the delivery of legal services is in the grip of a transformation that cannot be stopped.” A closer look at the proposals by lawyer-members of The Florida Bar, and the complaints that followed, caused The Florida Bar to withdraw the proposal. The Florida Bar’s “money issue” proposals apparently remain a goal of leadership. Some of those proposals, while benefitting large, multistate firms with hugely wealthy clients, would be of no value to smaller local firms or lawyers in rural communities and could well threaten the practices of those lawyers and others. Pending proposals for economic fee-sharing with non-lawyer businesses advanced by leadership of The Florida Bar again appear to benefit one category of Florida lawyer to the detriment of other lawyers. The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court should not be in a position of choosing which set of lawyers is worthy of being promoted and which is not.

The Florida Supreme Court should make it clear that the authority of The Florida Bar, as the arm of the Supreme Court, is to regulate the professionalism of lawyers, both by creation of rules limited to that issue, and enforcement of those rules where needed. Clearly, the certification of competency specialties, pro-bono legal services, public education programs, legal education programs and the like meet that goal. The “business getting,” “market capturing,” “profit maximizing” endeavors of The Florida Bar do not, and those endeavors should cease. If the Florida Supreme Court wishes to permit these activities, then The Florida Bar should conduct them only through a separate entity that lawyers can choose whether to join and support with their dollars, or ignore altogether. The business of lawyering should be left to private enterprise – not to the Florida Supreme Court and, by extension, to The Florida Bar.

One thing is certain: if The Florida Bar is going to become a business venture to maximize the profits of its members, then it may soon find itself under the scrutiny of, and regulation by, the Florida Legislature. The Florida Bar has stated that “periodically, a few legislators, public officials or special interest groups call for the regulation of the legal profession by an entity other than the Supreme Court of Florida.” This state has a fascinating and extensive history of legislative efforts to limit or modify the activities of The Florida Bar. Some efforts have been successful, with major changes resulting often by “compromise,” but sometimes through mandated legislation. It is in the best interest of lawyers, their clients, and the public to confront this issue without getting our divided legislature involved in the process. Continued efforts by The Florida Bar to adopt the President’s proposals, however, increase the risk that The Florida Bar, and perhaps the Florida Supreme Court, will be placed in the position of witnessing arguments about their future made and debated in the legislative arena.

The June issue of The Florida Bar Journal contained a stimulating article by Chief Justice LaBarga describing the efforts being made to educate Floridians about the justice system and to thereby improve their respect for the system and for the law itself. Justice Labarga’s theme was basically that no matter how well we function, it is what the public sees and understands about our system of justice that counts. In this changing world of communication, we must establish “goals designed to help us become better messengers to the people we serve and protect.” We must “let people know the good things we do” and even “acknowledge our own problems and demonstrate what we are doing to correct them.” That is an appropriate and worthy goal and mission statement for The Florida Bar.

Respectfully, The Florida Bar should abandon its current efforts to advance the “business,” “marketing,” and “profiting” of lawyering and instead focus on the professionalism of the law. That will best serve the public and the public perception of lawyers and the law, thereby serving the best interests of us all.

Bill Wagner

Alan Wagner

Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, P.A.

Tampa, Florida