Time to designate an inventory attorney Members may comply with the new rule online at floridabar.org January 1, 2006 Regular News Time to designate an inventory attorney To protect clients of an attorney who unexpectedly dies or otherwise becomes unable to practice, the Florida Supreme Court recently amended Bar rules — at the Bar’s request — to provide that members who practice in-state must designate an inventory attorney.The amendment to Rule 1-3.8 takes effect January 1, and the best and easiest way to designate an inventory attorney is to do it online at floridabar.org.Inventory attorneys take possession of the files of a member who dies, disappears, is disbarred or suspended, becomes delinquent, or suffers involuntary leave of absence due to military service, and no other responsible party capable of conducting the member’s affairs is known. The inventory attorney has the responsibility of notifying all clients that their lawyer is no longer able to represent them. The inventory attorney also may give the file to a client for finding substitute counsel; may make referrals to substitute counsel with the agreement of the client; or may accept representation of the client, but is not required to do so.Designated inventory attorneys will be contacted when the need arises and will be asked to serve. Because circumstances change, the designated inventory attorney is not obligated to serve. Inventory attorneys are not directly compensated but may receive reimbursement from The Florida Bar for actual costs incurred while carrying out the duties of an inventory attorney.Only those members who practice in Florida — regardless of where they live — must make a designation. Members who are eligible to practice in Florida, but who do not do so are not required to designate an inventory attorney.Lawyers who practice in Florida — regardless of whether they reside in the state — even if they have only one client (such as in-house counsel or if they represent governmental entities) are required to designate an inventory attorney. Who is not required to designate an inventory attorney? A Florida Bar member who lives in another state and does not practice at all in Florida is not required to designate an inventory attorney, even if the nonresident member is eligible to practice law in Florida.Florida judges and other members who are precluded from practicing law by statute or rule also are not required to designate.Florida resident members engaged in other occupations, even if eligible to practice law in Florida, are not required to designate. Who may be designated as an inventory attorney? Only other members of The Florida Bar may be designated as an inventory attorney.Designated inventory attorneys must be eligible to practice law in Florida. They are not required to be practicing, only that they be eligible to do so.Resident and nonresident members of the Bar may be designated as inventory attorneys. How are inventory attorneys appointed? When the need for an inventory attorney arises, Bar counsel will verify that the designated inventory attorney is eligible to practice law in Florida and shall contact the designated inventory attorney. If the designee agrees to serve, Bar counsel will file a petition with the local circuit court for appointment of the inventory attorney and secure an order of appointment. How do I designate an inventory attorney? The easiest way is to visit Bar’s Web site at floridabar.org. Go to “Member Profile” and look for the “Inventory Attorney Designation” link and fill out the online form. You must already be registered and have an online password to be able to fill out and submit the online form. Members who are not yet registered may follow the instructions on the Web site and fill out the form once they receive their password.The second way to make a designation is to clip the form at the end of this article, fill it out and mail it to: The Florida Bar, Department of Lawyer Regulation, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300. How often must I make a designation? Once a designation is made another designation is not required unless the originally designated inventory attorney is no longer willing or able to serve. In such event designation of another inventory attorney may be made online or by the form below.The text of the amendment reads: RULE 1-3.8 RIGHT TO INVENTORY (e) Designation of Inventory Attorney. Each member of the Bar who practices law in Florida shall designate another member of The Florida Bar who has agreed to serve as inventory attorney under this rule. When the services of an inventory attorney become necessary, an authorized representative of The Florida Bar shall contact the designated member and determine the member’s current willingness to serve. The designated member shall not be under any obligation to serve as inventory attorney.