Florida Bar Adapts to Digital Age: NonLawyers May Electronically Sign Pleadings

On June 27, 2014 the Professional Ethics Committee of the Florida Bar adopted Florida Ethics Opinion 87-11 (Reconsideration) to address changes to the Rules of Judicial Administration regarding electronic signatures. With the adoption of this Opinion, the Committee has deviated from the absolute prohibition on attorneys permitting nonlawyer employees to sign legal documents by effectively creating an exception, albeit a limited one. The Opinion permits a nonlawyer employee, under a lawyer’s supervision, to affix the lawyer’s signature on pleadings and documents, but only in electronic form using the “/s/,” “s/,” or “/s” formats.

Notwithstanding this amendment to the rule, the Committee cautions that although this limited delegation is permissible, lawyers still have a duty to “review and be responsible for the work product” as required by Rule 4-5.3(c).  Click here to read Opinion 87-11 (Reconsideration).

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