Thursday, March 30, 2023

Work Comp. in the News

Happy Thursday, everyone! I honestly cannot believe that April is already next week. But, I am so happy that spring is finally here!

Today, I wanted to share some current updates about workers’ compensation in the news. I often talk about the ins and outs of the practice areas that Marcie specializes in, and now I’d like to show you some real-life explanations and examples.

Earlier this month, two brothers in Jacksonville who work as roofers were charged with tax fraud and failing to pay premiums to work comp. insurers. The brothers controlled 3 companies and “failed to provide adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage.”

If you remember one of my earlier blog posts, I talked about why it is important that employers and small businesses always carry and maintain a form of work comp. insurance. Check out the work comp. tab on the upper right side of our blog if you need a refresher!

At the beginning of last month, the National Council on Compensation Insurance met and they now are, “requiring Florida workers’ compensation insurers to verify employees before arbitrarily charging premiums for subcontractors’ exempt officers.”

As I have also written about previously, “Florida’s workers’ compensation law allows most companies with three or fewer employees to opt out of insurance requirements. But the law also mandates that in the construction industry, if there is one employee you must have work. comp. coverage. Additionally, in construction, a contractor is responsible for insurance on non-exempt employees of uninsured subcontractors. Subcontractors are not required to provide evidence of workers’ comp coverage if they have no employees and provide a certificate showing that the subcontractor’s officers have elected to be exempt from the coverage requirements.”

The new rule put in place by the Council clarifies that “carriers should not charge an additional premium on the contractor’s policy unless they have filed notice with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation that a subcontractor has hired nonexempt employees and has failed to provide evidence of workers’ comp insurance.” This will help avoid unnecessary increases in premiums and ensure that everyone has the proper coverage.

Finally, in January of this year, 7 individuals in Manatee County were arrested for “Failure to Obtain Workers' Compensation Coverage and Unlicensed contracting.” The Sherriff’s office said that the sting was to identify and hold accountable unlicensed contractors who worked without the required contractor license and were engaging in construction class work without the required workers’ compensation insurance exemptions. I have attached the news story link below so you can read the full press release.

Hopefully, this was helpful to see how the rules and concepts of workers’ comp. law can be applied in real life and what it means for you as an employer or an employee. As always, contact our office with any questions or to set up your free consultation with Marcie Baker!


**The thoughts and information contained in this blog are not legal advice of any form. Please contact our office or an attorney with any legal problems or questions.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

So, What is the Bar Exam?


Hi all! As many of you know, I am wrapping up my final year of law school at Stetson University College of Law. My time has flown by, but I would also be lying if I said I did not have a countdown to graduation. This week also marks exactly four months until I sit for the dreaded Bar Exam.

So, what is the Bar Exam?

According to the American Bar Association, the exam, “The most common testing configuration consists of a two-day bar examination, one day of which is devoted to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a standardized 200-item test covering six areas (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts). The second day of testing is typically comprised of locally crafted essays from a broader range of subject matters.”

For most jurisdictions, the bar exam is a 2-day exam that is held on the last Tuesday & Wednesday every February and July. I will be sitting for the July Bar Exam in Florida. In the future, I may choose to take the exam for another state so that I can be licensed to practice there as well.

While this is true for many states, Florida is a bit different. According to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, “The General Bar Examination consists of two parts: Part A and Part B. Part A consists of three hours spent answering essay questions and three hours of 100 multiple-choice questions. Florida Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure and the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration are some of the Florida-specific topics that are tested.

I have already passed the first hurdle to becoming a licensed attorney. Last August, I took the required Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam which covers the ethical practices of attorneys and those involved in the legal profession. The Florida Bar requires a score of 80 to pass, and happily for me I scored 113.

One scary aspect for Florida test takers like me, Florida notoriously has one of the hardest Bar Exams in the nation. While I have confidence I can study hard and succeed, it is still very intimidating and right around the corner. I will need to begin my intensive, full-time study plan immediately after graduating in May.

Thankfully, I do not have to travel far to take the actual exam in February. The state of Florida has decided that all Florida Bar Exam takers must take the exam in Tampa, at the convention center. While students from Miami, Jacksonville, and other places throughout the state will have a lengthy journey that requires multiple nights in a hotel in an unfamiliar city, I will have home field advantage and a boyfriend who will drive me to the exam so I can have the luxury of sleeping in my own bed before one of the hardest exams of my life.

I appreciate all the good thoughts, well-wishes, and encouragement as I take this last step to becoming a licensed attorney. I am nervous, but also very excited to see what lies ahead!

Hopefully, this helped you all to understand just what it takes to be an attorney. It’s a lot more than you see on TV shows, and definitely not as easy as some make it out to be. But, I am excited to take on this next challenging chapter of my life and cannot wait to officially be sworn in as an attorney. I could not have done this journey without amazing attorneys like Marcie Baker supporting and encouraging me every step of the way!


**The thoughts and information in this blog do not constitute legal advice of any form. Contact our office with any legal concerns or questions.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

What Does it Take to Become a Mediator?

Happy Thursday, all! And happy early St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t forget to wear green so you don’t get pinched! Today I wanted to dive deeper into what it takes to be a Certified Mediator. As you know, Marcie Baker is certified by The Florida Supreme Court as a Family Law Mediator, and although we have talked about the benefits and what to expect at mediation, I want to explain why the person you are working with is qualified to be a mediator.

There is an educational requirement. The State of Florida generally requires individuals to have obtained a Bachelor’s Degree, or M.A., M.S., Ph.D., J.D., M.D., Ed.D., or LL.M. or a similar form of an advanced degree in order to be certified as a mediator. According to the Florida Supreme Court, “individuals with a bachelor’s degree may be eligible if they have completed a graduate level conflict resolution certificate program or already have extensive mediation experience.”

There is another requirement that goes beyond just obtaining certification. The Mentorship requirement means that a person who wants to be a mediator must either observe or co-mediate a certain number of cases related to the area they are hoping to be certified in. (Such as family law or workers’ comp.). The mediator who the person is observing must already be certified by the Florida Supreme Court.

A very important requirement and one that you should expect from all of your mediators is that they exhibit good moral character. This means they have to be trustworthy and ethical and have a record of engaging in such practices while maintaining their neutrality in the mediation process. Florida has a special screening process to make sure there are not any moral character issues. If the Florida Supreme Court finds such issues, an applicant may be barred from being a mediator.

See here for a breakdown of the specific requirements set out by the Florida Supreme Court.

I hope today’s post helped you better understand the role a mediator plays in your legal dispute and how they are qualified to do their jobs. Rest easy that they know what they are doing, have obtained the required certification, and will do their best to serve your needs as a neutral party during your legal dispute. As always, if you have any further questions or concerns about mediation, do not hesitate to contact our office!


***The thoughts and information in this blog in no way constitute legal advice of any form. If you have any questions or legal concerns please contact our office.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

What Do Other Attorneys Have to Say?

Happy Thursday, y’all! I hope that everyone’s March is off to a great start. Spring is right around the corner. Today I wanted to share some words of wisdom from some of the most well-known attorneys. They may be lawyers, but they have some pretty good advice too!

- “Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time.” -Sandra Day O’Connor

- “Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” -Thurgood Marshall

- “Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.” -Ruth Bader Ginsberg

- "Just remember: strength and courage. If you stand on principle, you'll never lose." -Janet Reno

- “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” -Abraham Lincoln

- “Failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done is a great weakness in any man.” -William Howard Taft

- “The quest for freedom, dignity and the rights of man will never end.” -William Brennan Jr.

- “My view is that we cannot be ruled by fear. When we do that, we are not making ourselves see. We are not thinking things through. We are not looking at what works.” -Loretta Lynch

Hope you all enjoyed these quotable quotes from famous attorneys. It’s always good to keep things in perspective or learn new ways to address life’s challenges. As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions or concerns!

**The thoughts and information contained in this blog do not constitute legal advice of any form. If you have any questions, please contact our office to let us know how we can assist you.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Mediation Myths: Debunked!

Happy Thursday, and Happy March everyone! Spring is right around the corner, and I am excited about some more sunshine and to see all of the flowers bloom. I think it’s time for another blog about debunking some myths related to legal claims. Today, let’s look into mediation!

Myth One: Going to mediation instead of litigation means your case is weak.

Reality: Mediation is not chosen based on how strong your case is. It is an alternative to going to the courtroom, that allows parties to facilitate discussion. It does not matter how strong or weak your case is, what matters is the best way to resolve your case.

Myth Two: You can only use mediation when you are going through a divorce.

Reality: Actually, mediation can be used in all kinds of areas of law! Again, it is meant to facilitate discussion, whether it be between husband and wife, employee and employer, or even something like landlords and tenants. Mediation is a great tool that can be used in much more than family law issues.

Myth Three: Mediation is a waste of time

Reality: Mediation is not just a time killer and even if you feel like it is impossible to agree, this process is meant to help provide clarity for your case. You may realize there are areas you and the other party are willing to compromise on, and mediation can help identify what the key problems of your case are. It can take time, but it can also help provide clarity during a highly confusing and emotional time.

Myth Four: Going to mediation means that you have to solve every problem of your case at mediation.

Reality: Yes, mediation is meant to save money and avoid litigation, but we do not live in a perfect world. Sometimes, there are issues that cannot be agreed upon and will require the intervention of a court/judge. Mediation, however, can help resolve at least some of your issues. You should not feel like a failure if you cannot resolve all of your issues.

Myth Five: You don’t need an attorney for mediation.

Reality: Yes, mediation is an avenue to save money. But, because parts of the mediation process can be emotional and confusing it is important to have an attorney who can help ease any fears or confusion. Not to mention, attorneys know what is expected from mediation and can make sure that you are making decisions/agreements that are most beneficial to you.

Hopefully, this helps ease some fears and concerns about mediation. As I have said before, the internet can be a wonderful place, but it can also mislead you and raise fears when it comes to dealing with legal issues. If you still have any questions or concerns, contact us and we would be happy to help!


***The thoughts and information in this blog in no way constitute legal advice of any form. If you have any questions or concerns about mediation, please do not hesitate to contact our office!

Time to Say Goodbye

Happy Thursday, all! Enjoy this upcoming long weekend and the unofficial start to summer! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and to...