Lawyers for the poor seek hike in bar dues

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Joined by a former state Supreme Court justice, attorneys for the poor are trying to raise annual Florida Bar dues by up to $100 to address what they call a fiscal crisis.

The attempt to hike the annual dues, which have not increased since 2001, from the current $265 has sparked an outcry in the legal community and created a rift over how much of the onus lawyers should bear to fund legal-services groups throughout the state.

Former Justice Raoul Cantero, Florida Legal Services Executive Director Kent Spuhler and Florida Justice Institute Executive Director Randall Berg are leading the crusade to increase the fees before the bulk of the current funding for legal aid dries up.

In accordance with Bar rules, Cantero formally notified The Bar that his group intended to file a petition with the Supreme Court proposing a change to the current rule that caps lawyers’ annual dues at $265. The proposal would allow the Bar to lift the maximum dues by up to $100 and would require that the additional funds be steered to the “Legal Aid for the Poor Program” administered by The Florida Bar Foundation.

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