What Do Lawyers Charge to Represent You at a Florida Bar Hearing?

Soreide Law Group charges $3,500 for representation of student Applicants before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for an investigative hearing and $4,500 for out of state attorneys applying to the Florida Bar. For Formal Hearings before the Board we charge between $7,500 to $10,000, depending on a number of factors such as, if there are depositions that will be needed, the complexity of the issues, the number of witnesses that need to be prepared, and if you are a student applicant or an out of state attorney.

Many attorneys would never publicize their rates because many do what is commonly referred to as “value billing,” meaning that they charge their clients the maximum that they perceive they can afford. There is a huge disparity in what people charge even for an investigative hearing which ranges from $2,500 to $15,000, which is based off my knowledge of what applicants have shared with me.

As an attorney who has represented applicants before the Board for over a decade and having done hundreds of appearances in character hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, I am well justified in being at the top of the range. The purpose of this post is to inform the public that there are several (including myself) seasoned attorneys that charge below $5,000 for an investigative hearing. It pains me to hear from an applicant who is heading to a formal hearing who paid $6,000 or more to an attorney that touted his “reputation” and years of experience as his reason for his outrageous billing only to learn that the attorney under prepared the client and offered little to no evidence to the Board in support of their client at the hearing.

Buyer beware that you have other options that offer substantial value and maximum efforts on your behalf for their services. Don’t get oversold on someone having a good “relationship” with the Board because the Board is evaluating YOU and not the attorney sitting next to you.

For a FREE consultation for your investigative or formal hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners call 888-760-6552.

If you feel Soreide Law Group isn’t the right fit for you we are happy to provide names of other reasonably priced, highly skilled attorneys who regularly appear before the Board.

The 2020 Schedule for The Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearing Dates and Locations

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has set the hearings dates and locations in Florida for bar applicants with investigative and formal hearings for 2020.  These are the dates and locations:

January 23 – 24            Tallahassee

March 12 – 14                 Orlando

April 23 – 24                  Coral Gables

July 9 – 11                      Orlando

September 10 – 12        Coral Gables

October 22 – 24             Jacksonville

November 19 – 21         Tampa

Soreide Law Group reminds every Florida bar applicant that if they are contacted by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners requesting an investigative or formal bar hearing, they need to be prepared for their hearing. If the Florida Board of Bar Examiners files specifications and you are facing a formal hearing it could delay your plans as much as eight months to a one year. Soreide Law Group has represented hundreds of Florida bar applicants in both the investigative and formal hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Every bar hearing is unique and requires evidence and testimony tailored to your specific fact set. Several of these items can be obtained quickly but it varies case by case. The Board will waive the 15 day rule for submitting your evidence in advance if you are within the 15 day window. In this case, you would be able to bring your exhibits with you to the hearing itself. You must bring 5 copies of whatever you intend to submit, one copy for each of the Board members, one for the record, and one for you.

If you feel you may not be ready for your Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearing or if you feel it is short notice, then it may be best to wait until you are fully prepared and have done all of the work in advance.  You should not rush and try to be admitted to an earlier hearing. If you are not sure, we recommend you contact an attorney for a consultation.

If you’ve been called before the Florida Bar for an Investigative or Formal Hearing, Soreide Law Group will represent you at the hearing and help you navigate through the process.  It can be very daunting and your professional future is on the line.

Soreide Law Group is conveniently based in Pompano Beach, Florida and we travel to every hearing location in Florida representing bar applicants in both investigative and formal hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. If you have an upcoming investigative hearing or a formal hearing call Soreide Law Group and speak to an experienced license defense attorney at no cost to you at: 888-760-6552.

IMPORTANT CHANGES to How to Submit Evidence to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners

Recent changes have taken effect as to what weight the Florida Board of Bar Examiners will give to community service submitted as evidence in Character and Fitness Hearings before the Board. A recent Florida Supreme Court case now requires that the time logs be submitted and signed off on with detailed notes of what was done for the hours spent. Historically one could get a “thank you” letter from a supervisor at an organization that would total up the hours but now the Board wants to see the details of each day, what was done, and have the supervisor sign off on it regularly.

Bar Hearing Lawyer Rated 10/10 AVVO

All character and fitness hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners whether they are Investigate Hearings, Formal Hearings, or Rehabilitative Hearings the burden is always on the Applicant to prove that he or she possesses the requested character and fitness to practice law in the state of Florida. If one finds themselves before this investigative tribunal obviously something happened in your past that is being called into question. The Board has to weigh the good character evidence against the bad character evidence and there are few better ways to outweigh bad evidence than by loading up on community service hours.

One may wonder what kind of community service the Board of Bar Examiners deems relevant.  anything not career advancing such as volunteering at the Public Defender’s office or a legal internship that’s unpaid would carry no weight since it is career advancing and not true community service. The only legal related community service that could be used to mitigate the bad character evidence is the Guardian Ad Litem Program. This is the only legal related program that the Florida Supreme Court has given credit to Applicants to the Florida Bar as mitigating evidence.

If you are facing a hearing and know that you have some bad character evidence to overcome I would recommend doing community service to overcome it but document it in such a way that each activity is accounted for and signed off on a regular or semi regular basis or you run the risk of the Board of Bar Examiners giving it no weight at all.

Always consider hiring an experience Florida Bar Defense Lawyer to be your advocate at the hearing and make sure that you comply with all evidentiary rules and engage in meaningful discovery before the hearing so there are no surprises that you didn’t prepare for the day of. Lars Soreide, Esq., has appeared before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners in Character and Fitness hearings hundreds of times on behalf of Applicants and travels to each hearing location of the Board so geography is not a concern. Call 888-760-6552 for a free consultation with a Florida Board of Bar Examiners Defense Attorney today to make sure you are prepared for your character and fitness hearing.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearing Dates For The Remainder of 2019

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has set hearings dates and locations for bar applicants with investigative and formal hearings on the following dates:

July 11th – 13th  Coral Gables

Sept 12th – 14th Tampa

Oct 10th – 16th  Coral Gables

Nov 14th – 16th  Orlando

Soreide Law Goup reminds every applicant if they are contacted by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners requesting an investigative or formal bar hearing, they need to be ready for their hearing. If the Board of Bar Examiners files specifications and you are facing a formal hearing you could be looking at an 8 month to a one year delay to your plans. Soreide Law Group has represented hundreds of applicants in both the investigative and formal hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Every bar hearing requires evidence and testimony which is tailored to your specific fact set. Many of these items can be obtained quickly so it will vary case by case if an earlier hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners is right for you.  The Board will waive the 15 day rule for submitting your evidence in advance if you are within the 15 day window. In this case, you would be able to bring your exhibits with you to the hearing itself. You must bring 5 copies of anything you intend to submit, one copy for each of the Board members, one for the record, and one for you.

If you feel you may not be ready for your Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearing or if you feel it is short notice, then we would recommend you wait until you are fully prepared and have done all of the work in advance.  You should not rush into an earlier hearing. If you are not sure, we recommend you contact an attorney for a consultation.

Soreide Law Group is conveniently based in Pompano Beach, Florida and we travel to every hearing location in Florida representing applicants in both investigative and formal hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. If you have an upcoming investigative hearing or a formal hearing call Soreide Law Group and speak to an experienced license defense attorney at no cost to you at: 1-888-760-6552.

Reapplying To The Florida Bar May Be More Difficult Now

Disbarred Lawyers are going to have a much more difficult time reapplying to the Florida Bar

I recently represented a former attorney in a formal hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners that years back agreed to a three year suspension of his law license with the right to reapply in 3 years. One would think that given the Supreme Court of Florida allowed the voluntary relinquishment of the license with the right to reapply would mean that the in the eyes of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners the attorney would NOT be considered disbarred. To what will surely be to most applicants surprise is the Board of Bar Examiners is treating anyone that relinquishes their law license in the face of disciplinary action even with the right to reapply as disbarred attorneys.  Reapplying to the Florida Bar will likely be more difficult from now on.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners uses the Florida Supreme Court Case of Hale v. Supreme Court of Florida at The Florida Bar v. Hale, 762 So. 2nd 515 (Fla. 2000) to hold that, “a disciplinary resignation is tantamount to disbarment.”  So why is this a problem for Applicants? The Supreme Court of Florida has held that disbarment alone is disqualifying for admission to the Bar unless an applicant can show clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation. The applicants have to establish rehabilitation by clear and convincing evidence as explained in Florida Bar Rule 3-13. The standard clear and convincing is far from clear to Applicants as to how much community service is needed. Recently the Supreme Court in Florida Board of Bar Examiners in RE: Ferguson overturned the Board’s decision to readmit the formerly disbarred attorney after thousands of hours of community service completed by the Applicant and instead deferred judgment and allowed him to reapply in two years. The Board will weigh the seriousness of the offenses in determining what is enough evidence of rehabilitation but Applicant’s who resign in the face of disciplinary action should know going in that they are now viewed as disbarred attorneys.

Bar Hearing Lawyer Rated 10/10 AVVO

If you have character and fitness issues and are having a formal or investigative hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners call attorney Lars Soreide, Esq., for a free consultation. We travel to all 6 hearing locations of the Board of Bar Examiners and offer flat fees and payment plans. Call today for your free Florida Bar Character hearing consultation  at (888) 760-6552.

Florida Bar Hearing Dates Set for May and July

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has set hearings dates for bar applicants with investigative and formal hearings on May 10 -12, 2018, in Coral Gables, Florida, and July 13 -14, 2018, in Jacksonville, Florida.
If contacted by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners requesting an investigative or formal bar hearing, every Applicant should ask themselves if they are ready. There is a natural inclination to just want to get it over with, but if the Board of Bar Examiners files specifications and you now are facing a formal hearing you could be looking at oftentimes an 8 month to a year delay to your file. Soreide Law Group is representing Applicants in the upcoming Coral Gables and Jacksonville hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
The Board does allow the 15 day rule to be waived to submit your evidence in advance if they notice you are within the 15 day window. In this case, you can bring your exhibits with you to the hearing itself. Make sure you bring with you 5 copies of anything you intend to submit, which will be one copy for each Board member, one for the record, and one for you. If you are not sure if you are ready for your Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearing on short notice, then you should wait. Only if you are fully prepared and have done all of the work in advance should you jump at the opportunity to rush into an earlier hearing. If you are not sure you should contact an attorney for a consultation.
Soreide Law Group has represented hundreds of Applicants before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and can help you navigate the tough decision of, “Am I ready?” No two hearings are the same and each hearing requires evidence and testimony which is tailored to your specific fact set. Many of these items can be obtained quickly so it will vary case by case if an earlier hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners is right for you. Soreide Law Group travels to every hearing location in Florida to represent Applicants. We are conveniently based in Pompano Beach, Florida.
If you have an investigative hearing or a formal hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners call Soreide Law Group and speak to an experienced license defense attorney at no cost to you, at (888) 760-6552.

Florida Bar Character and Fitness Hearing – How Should I Defend Myself in a Formal Hearing?

So the investigative character and fitness hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners did not go as planned. You have now been served with Specifications and have to go to a “Formal Hearing”. You may ask yourself wasn’t I just at a formal hearing and what is the difference between a Formal and Investigative Hearing. An Investigative Hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners is merely an investigation even though they ask you questions under oath and are creating a transcript of the meeting.

Although an investigative hearing can feel pretty formal in form and function, there are very few rules of evidence and limited objections can be made at the investigative hearing. The Formal Hearing however, has a five member Panel and there is actually a Board of Bar Examiners defense attorney there making arguments against you to keep you from being admitted. The 5 member, as opposed to 3 member panel which you already have seen, is far more passive and they let the lawyers present their respective cases. At the Formal Hearing there are opening arguments from both sides, witnesses called, rebuttal witnesses and closing statements. Evidentiary objections are much more common and speaking objections to the form of questions are common.

Lars Soreide Award

With that background the question typically to my law firm, Soreide Law Group, is what do we do and how do we defend this? You must and I mean MUST raise the affirmative defense of rehabilitation or you waive it. That means you can’t offer and evidence or mitigation or character witnesses explaining how you have changed and the events at issue are all “in the past”. This is an acceptable defense but I find all too frequently, clients (usually speaking to other counsel) are all too eager to fall on their own sword and just go in with hat in hand and beg for forgiveness.  Sometimes this is necessary but that shouldn’t be your first option.

What Do I Do If I Find Myself In a Formal Bar Hearing?

 

Sometimes the investigative hearing panel gets it wrong and you shouldn’t be there. There have been multiple Formal Hearings where we straight out deny the specifications (and explain why as is required) and have actually had the Board of Bar Examiners agree with us and rule in our favor. What is really important to note after reading this is don’t go in thinking the Panel is just there to punish you because this is a new Panel (the first 3 Board Members are not allowed to sit on the Panel again) and not all Board members agree.

A well thought out defense might actually be in your best interest as long as it is factual and presented respectfully that may be your best shot for not having a denial or a lengthy delay to getting your Bar Card. More importantly talk to experience legal counsel.  The hearings rotate between 6-8 geographic locations so look to hire someone that is experienced because most anyone you hire including you is probably going to have to travel. If anyone has any questions about this article or a character and fitness hearing before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners call (888) 760-6552 and speak with Florida Board of Bar Examiners Defense Attorney Lars Soreide, Esq.

Frequently Asked Florida Bar Hearing Questions

Soreide Law Group receives many questions from applicants to the Florida Bar. Below you can find a few questions that may answer some of your bar hearing inquiries.

Q1: I was arrested (fill in any number) years ago and it was expunged. My criminal defense lawyer tells me there is no way anyone can find out, it’s like it never happened, if I don’t disclose will the Bar find out?

A: The answer is YES, they will find out. Setting aside the ridiculous nature of the question, assume you get caught the consequences may be irreparable. Think logically for a second and ask yourself what you think the Bar is more concerned with: a) your silly juvenile crime from years back, or b) as someone who now has been through law school and is seeking a law license decided to actively conceal material information from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Q2: I have a lot of debts and unpaid bills what can I do about it and how will the Florida Board of Bar Examiners react?

A: Don’t have a “today problem” is what I tell all my Applicants. After reviewing the debts most of my clients, most are so small and inconsequential i.e. unpaid water bill $30 just pay it off. If you can’t afford to pay off a debt negotiate a lesser payment or enter into a payment plan. The Board of Bar Examiners just wants to see that you are not turning your back on your creditors. It may feel like the Board is acting as a debt collection service but you are asking for a license that will allow you to open up and manage clients funds through a trust account. That is a huge responsibility and if you can’t manage your own finances the Board will not want you managing your clients.

Q3: If the investigative hearing doesn’t go well what happens next?

First and foremost make sure you prepare for the investigative hearing as if it is the formal hearing and do everything you can to impress. Nothing wrong with being over prepared for the investigative hearing because if they don’t admit you they typically advance you to a formal hearing which is a full blown trial with a Board prosecutor making arguments to keep you out of the Bar. There are in some limited circumstances proposed settlements that in lieu of filing specifications the Board may ask you for community service hours or a lengthy brief. My advice is do all that in advance to not further delay the process and impress on the Board that you take this process seriously and are willing to do whatever it takes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. If you want legal advice call (954) 760-6552.

Lars Soreide, Esq.

Character and Fitness are Significant When Applying to The Florida Bar

Honesty is always the best policy when applying to the Bar.  Character and fitness play a significant roll in being admitted to the Florida Bar.

In order to become a fully licensed member of Florida’s Bar, law school graduates must have a clear character and fitness inquiry.  This step is often underestimated, but can make all the difference in whether or not a graduate will be admitted.  Bar applicants must possess good character and show clear and convincing evidence that they possess the requisite degree of good character to sit for the bar exam and be admitted to the Florida Bar.

During the process of admittance, applicants fill out a lengthy questionnaire with personal information about their past such as job losses, arrests, academic misconduct, traffic tickets, bankruptcies, and in some cases mental health history, to name a few.  Even if the applicant might consider something “minor,” it could become a major issue in the admission process.  It is most important to disclose all information asked, and honestly.

In some jurisdictions, applicants with a criminal history, academic misconduct or financial issues, may not be allowed to take the bar exam.  In other cases, they may be able to sit for the bar but then must attend a hearing concerning their fitness.

If you’ve been called before the Florida Bar for an Investigative or Formal Hearing, Soreide Law Group will represent you at the hearing and help you navigate through the process.  It can be very daunting and your future is on the line.

Soreide Law Group represents those individuals seeking admittance to the Florida Bar, and existing lawyers, for both Investigative Hearings and Formal Hearings in front of the Florida Bar.

Call for a no-cost consultation with an experienced Florida Bar Defense Attorney if you have an upcoming Investigative or Formal Hearing with the Florida Bar. We travel to all locations throughout Florida to appear before the Board of Bar Examiners. Call Soreide Law Group at:  888-760-6552.