Florida Lawyers Want More Spent on Legal Aid, but Differ on Who Should Pay

Hundreds of Florida attorneys, including a former state Supreme Court justice, are asking the state’s judiciary to raise the annual bar dues that lawyers pay to $365, a $100 hike opposed by state bar leaders.

Two legal non-profits pushing for the hike say the extra dollars are needed to prop up a legal-aid financing system in the state that’s running short on subsidies.

Legal aid programs, which provide services to the poor, typically rely on state programs that channel money from interest on client accounts held by lawyers in trust for future use . With interest rates at historic lows — and with Florida’s annual bar fees frozen since 2001 — legal aid funding has taken a big hit, according to the groups.

The Florida Justice Institute and Florida Legal Services spearheaded the 13-page petition, which was authored by former state Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero and signed by more than 500  lawyers. The groups filed the petition with the Florida Supreme Court on Monday.

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