Don’t tax lawyers to help indigent

 

The May 19 article Lawyers spar over legal aid reports an attempt by a few to increase the Florida Bar dues as a measure to cure the problem of those who cannot afford legal services. However, all the things the Florida Bar and Florida lawyers have done in the past, are now doing and looking to do in the future were missing from the discussion were

Lawyers donate substantial hours each year for legal services throughout the state. Millions of dollars are donated for legal-service assistance. Equally important is the Florida Bar and its proactive approach to this issue. It has established a statewide commission of legal scholars and leaders to address the future of the practice of law in Florida, incorporating access to justice and affordable legal services.

The individuals behind this measure to tax a few have good intentions. But they must appreciate that a comprehensive approach as the Florida Bar is taking will be more effective and acceptable. We can’t afford to allow taxation as a measure to interfere with the potential long-term solution for this problem of incorporating all segments of the community. After all this is a community problem not just a Florida Bar problem. The substantial majority of Florida lawyers who oppose this measure want the opportunity to develop a resolution that will meet the test of time. Simply taxing lawyers already doing a substantial amount and carrying the load is not an adequate solution.

Jay Cohen, member, board of governors, Florida Bar, Fort Lauderdale

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