Housing Trends: Condo Hotels

What is a Condo Hotel?

A condo hotel, also known as a condotel, is legally categorized as a condominium but operates as a hotel. Units within the condotel are owned by individuals and are available for personal use or, in most cases, also as short-term rental spaces. 

 

Sometimes, these units are sold “turn-key” and are even furnished. Upon closing, owners receive the deed to their unit and can utilize the property as they see fit. Owners also enjoy the tax and real estate appreciation benefits of being a property owner when they invest in a condotel.

 

A Passive Income Opportunity

Condotels allow real estate investors to take a more “hands off” approach to owning and operating a short-term rental property. When owners are not personally enjoying their unit, they can choose to rent out their space to interested guests. 

 

Florida’s tourism hotspots like Orlando, Miami, and Tampa have condotels that allow owners to utilize a rental program for their units to be rented out like a hotel room. This way, even out-of-state owners can reap the benefits of a vacation rental property without dealing with everything that goes into maintaining the property. Most condo hotels have a cleaning service, concierge desk, and hotel-style amenities available to investors and guests. 

 

Drawbacks 

Since condotels are operated as traditional hotels, fees involving maintenance, housekeeping services, and/or HOA can often be quite high. In addition, owners may need to take out special insurance to protect themselves from liability. 

 

MLG is Here to Help

When you invest in a condotel, you are not only buying into a real estate venture but also a business opportunity. Thankfully, the lawyers at MLG are here to assist you with the wide range of real estate and business law issues that may arise as you navigate your investment. For more information, schedule a consultation today. 

 

Discover and read more → Housing Trends: Single Family “Build to Rent”

 

The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel. 

Housing Trends: Single Family “Build to Rent”

Is a new model of innovative housing coming our way? The limited supply of residential property in Florida, particularly in the Tampa Bay region, has peaked over the last two years, given the arrival of many new residents to our community.1 The Tampa metro area had some of the largest net domestic migration gains in the U.S.2

Additionally, rapidly increasing home prices have been pricing out many would-be buyers3, and the Federal Reserve’s increases in interest rates are raising the cost of mortgage financing. In light of the radical change in the local population and home prices, it is reasonable to study other metropolitan areas’ responses to their local housing crises. One such response is the development of single-family build-to-rent communities. We predict that the community of renters soon will include older, more affluent renters than in the past, as these renters want the perks of single-family home living but cannot afford local home prices.

Local developers are beginning to capitalize on build-to-rent communities, and we predict this will increase in Tampa Bay. “Developers have ramped up activity levels in recent years and will likely complete approximately 60,000 single-family homes as rental units in 2022, up more than 40 percent from levels recorded as recently as 2017.”4

Build to Rent is Trending Across the Country

Nationally, according to the U.S. Census in 2020, builders added 226,000 single-family rentals. “The Single-Family Rental Market Index, a quarterly survey that gauges the industry’s health by measuring factors such as median rent, leasing activity, and occupancy, rose to 90.3 out of 100 in the first quarter of 2021 from 62.5 out of 100 a year earlier, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting and NRHC, which created the index in mid-2019.”5 Built-to-rent operators are actively buying vacant land, and this acquisition is occurring most rapidly in the southeast U.S. Data indicates that build-to-rent operators account for 15% of raw land purchases in Florida.

As the real estate market has soared in Tampa Bay and affordable housing spiraled for many would-be home buyers and renters, developers, homeowners, and renters will need to navigate the tumultuous legal issues accompanying these changes. The lawyers at Massey Law Group are here to assist with the wide range of real estate and business law issues that arise in this volatile market.

For more information, schedule a consultation today. 

 

The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel. 


[1] https://www.tampabay.com/news/business/2021/12/09/more-people-are-moving-to-tampa-bay-from-south-florida-why/;

[2] https://www.wfla.com/news/florida/florida-metros-gained-population-as-most-of-us-shrank-census-reports/

[3] Tampa has a 29% increase in median entry level mortgage payments.

[4] https://rebusinessonline.com/single-family-build-to-rent-changing-renter-demographics-fuel-growth/

[5] https://www.wealthmanagement.com/sfr/single-family-rentals-come-age

Diversity and the Economy: An Integral Connection

How does diversity and inclusion affect business?

In our previous blog “Diversity Cannot Be Dismissed,” we discussed how the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to essentially withdraw its promotion of diversity is a detriment to crucial progress being made within the legal profession. However, as many might not realize, diversity and inclusion matter in a financial sense as well.

In the United States, there is a linear relationship between diversity and better financial performance. When an organization’s workforce is full of people with differing genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, and cultures, the range of perspectives, world views, and experiences allows for better business decisions to be made and for significantly increased overall success — however you measure it. 

According to studies done by the University of South Florida[1], companies whose employees ranked in the top 25th percentile for racial and ethnic diversity logged returns exceeding the financial medians in their respective industries by 35 percent. When it comes to gender diversity, companies in the top 25th percentile were 15 percent more likely to top financial medians. However, the data shows that no company or industry is in the top 25th percentile for both gender diversity and racial-ethnic diversity.

With studies showing that diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow[2] per employee and diverse management boosting revenue by 19 percent[3], it is no wonder that 43 percent of companies with diverse boards are seeing higher profits[4] in the past few years.

Built In[5] reports that at 78%, most of the United States workforce is made up of white people. This means, unfortunately, that Black, Hispanic, and Latinx people experience marginally higher unemployment rates, and discrimination during the hiring process has allowed for these statistics to become the norm.

The same report mentions that  three out of four workers prefer to be employed by a diverse company. In addition, 48% of Gen Z, the rising members of the future workforce, are racial or ethnic minorities. With this in mind, companies that do not embrace diversity will soon be left behind.

There is an optimistic outlook on the future of the business world and what the financial landscape of a more diverse workforce could look like. Specifically, insights from the McKinsey & Company study[6] ”Women in the Workplace 2021” shows that if the gender gap is narrowed by 2025, the worldwide GDP could increase by $12 trillion. Furthermore, a potential $2 billion dollars in additional revenue is on the line if financial inclusion efforts broaden services for Black Americans.  

All of the above is, of course, a big IF. IF business professionals want to step up, embrace diversity, and reap the financial benefits. IF not, the great resignation might seem like a mere blow to the workforce in comparison to what’s to come. Diversity and inclusion are often discussed in a societal sense, but it is crucial to understand the economic appeal of creating a more diverse workforce to promote equality further.

While it may be cliché, it is true — money talks. For most businesses, the bottom line is usually the top priority. However, when significant improvements to financial measurements are happening at the hands of improving diversity and inclusion within an organization, businesses take notice. Diversity and inclusion have a long way to go until true equality is achieved, but the ball is in the businessperson’s court. If business reflects society, shouldn’t its members reflect the diverse world we live in today?

It’s time to step up. 

 

Discover more, and read → Diversity Cannot Be Dismissed


[1] Why Diversity Matters and How You Can Create a More Inclusive Workplace | USF Corporate Training and Professional Education

[2] Bersin by Deloitte: Diversity and Inclusion Top the List of Talent Practices Linked to Stronger Financial Outcomes (prnewswire.com)

[3] Delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx (mckinsey.com)

[4] Delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx (mckinsey.com)

[5] 57 Diversity In the Workplace Statistics In 2022 | Built In

[6] Insights on Diversity and Inclusion | McKinsey & Company

Diversity Cannot Be Dismissed

Has the Florida Supreme Court withdrawn its support for the promotion of diversity?

On April 15, 2021, the Supreme Court of Florida amended the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar to prevent continuing legal education (“CLE”) credit from being given to courses created in accordance with the American Bar Association (“ABA”) model policy[1].  The ABA Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) CLE Policy “provides that any ABA CLE program with three or more panelists (including the moderator) must have at least one member from a diverse group; a CLE program with five to eight panelists (including the moderator) must have at least three members from a diverse group.”[2] Diversity is defined in this Policy to mean race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.[3] The Policy restricts the ABA from sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or awarding CLE accreditation to a CLE that fails to adhere to this Policy.  The ABA D&I CLE Policy has mechanisms for appeals and exceptions to be granted where CLE credit and/or sponsorship may be attained regardless of non-compliance with the Policy.

The Business Law Section (“BLS”) of The Florida Bar implemented the BLS Diversity & Inclusion CLE Speaker Panel Policy (“BLS Policy”) on September 1, 2020, with an effective date of January 1, 2021.  The BLS Policy is modeled after the ABA D&I CLE Policy and defines diversity as based on “race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and multiculturalism.”[4] The BLS Policy provides two scenarios that may constitute grounds for an exception from the BLS Policy: 

“1. Previously confirmed diverse speakers or moderators for the CLE cancel, withdraw or become unable to attend and participate in the CLE and insufficient time exists to replace them and maintain a diverse panel.

2. After a diligent search and inquiry, the proponents of the CLE have affirmed they have been unable to obtain the participation of the requisite diverse members of the CLE panel.”[5]

In response to the implementation of the BLS Policy, on its own motion, the Florida Supreme Court issued its April 15, 2021 Opinion. The Florida Supreme Court’s opinion amended Rule 6-10.3 governing Minimum Continuing Legal Education Standards to prohibit the board of legal specialization and education from approving “any course submitted by a sponsor, including a section of The Florida Bar, that uses quotas based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in the selection of course faculty or participants.”[6] 

In response to the Florida Supreme Court’s April 2021 opinion, BLS rescinded its Policy.  The legal community also reacted; the Florida Supreme Court received over forty comments objecting to the April 2021 opinion.  

On December 16, 2021, the Florida Supreme Court responded to the negative comments by issuing an opinion affirming the rule change, but extending the effective date and clarifying that both sponsors or individual bar members would be precluded from seeking CLE credit for CLEs created utilizing any “quota.”[7]

The Florida Supreme Court’s holding that the BLS Policy is akin to a quota is misplaced. From a legal perspective, the second basis for seeking an exception from the BLS Policy renders the BLS Policy more akin to an illusory contract than a requirement and therefore quota.  Where the proponents of the CLE affirm that they are unable to obtain the participation of the appropriate number of diverse panelists, the proponents may still receive the CLE certification from BLS.  Accordingly, the BLS Policy does not implement the mandatory requirement of diverse panelists and is instead essentially a recommendation. Thus, the BLS Policy seeks to attempt to create diversity amongst CLE panelists and is an aspirational policy.  

The Florida Supreme Court’s holding is even more problematic because it analogizes the BLS Policy as discrimination under a reverse discrimination theory.  The original opinion determined that the BLS Policy was a quota and therefore “antithetical to basic American principles of nondiscrimination.”[8] The December 2021 opinion doubled down on this theory, stating that by requiring diverse CLE panelists based upon race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and multiculturalism, the Policy “caps the percentage of nondiverse panelists”[9] and is discriminatory.  The Florida Supreme Court’s December opinion operates to prevent discrimination against straight, white, able-bodied men.  The reality is that discrimination in our society occurs against historically excluded individuals – not the members of our society who have historically maintained power and control.  Only in a ridiculous hypothetical scenario would such a white man be the subject of discrimination.  This is not the way the world works.  The Florida Supreme Court is living in a fantasy of its own creation where white men who want to speak at CLEs are suffering at the hands of historically marginalized individuals.

Even more concerning than the erroneous legal analysis finding the BLS Policy to be mandatory, and therefore a quota, and the highest court in our state affirming the existence of reverse discrimination, is what remained unsaid in both the April 2021 and December 2021 Florida Supreme Court majority opinions.  The Court entirely omitted any commitment to The Florida Bar’s efforts to promote diversity.  While the Florida Supreme Court in its original opinion specifically noted its recognition and gratitude “for the Bar sections’ important contributions to the legal profession in our state,”[10] both majority opinions are silent as to the importance of the promotion of diversity within The Florida Bar.  

The question must then be asked: why?  Is it because “diversity” was on the list of forbidden words promulgated by the Trump administration to the CDC?[11]  Have our values as a society been so altered by the prior administration so as to foster governmental disinterest in promoting the values of diversity, equity and inclusion?  If this is the case, then attorneys must use our collective voice to promote the visibility and voices of historically marginalized and excluded individuals in the legal profession and in our communities.  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion matter.  There are other reasons to support these goals: they improve companies’ bottom lines, personal and organizational productivity, and companies’ recruiting power.[12] The most important reason is because we as a society seek to evolve in meaningful and positive ways for all of our members.

The Florida Supreme Court did not simply dismiss the CLE policies; they dismissed diversity as a goal for The Florida Bar.   

 

Discover more, and read → Diversity and the Economy: An Integral Connection


[1] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, 315 So.3d 637 (Fla. 2021).

[2] https://www.americanbar.org/groups/taxation/publications/abataxtimes_home/20feb/20feb-villalobos-diversity-inclusion-overview/

[3] Id. See ABA Diversity & Inclusion CLE Policy, ABA.

[4] Business Law Section of The Florida Bar Diversity & Inclusion CLE Speaker Panel Policy.

[5] Id.

[6] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, 315 So.3d 637, 638 (Fla. 2021).

[7] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, No. SC21-284 (Fla. 2021).

[8] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, 315 So.3d 637, 637 (Fla. 2021).

[9] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, No. SC21-284 (Fla. 2021).

[10] In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 6-10.3, 315 So.3d 637, 637 (Fla. 2021).

[11] https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/trump-to-cdc-these-7-words-are-now-forbidden/; see alsohttps://www.npr.org/2017/12/16/571329234/trump-administration-reportedly-instructs-cdc-on-its-own-version-of-7-dirty-word; https://www.vox.com/2017/12/20/16793010/cdc-word-ban-trump-censorship-language; https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/trump-to-cdc-these-7-words-are-now-forbidden/.

[12] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

 

Reflections on 2021 and the State of Business in 2022 Through the Lens of The Great Resignation and Gender Equality

2021 has seen society globally and locally disrupted and transformed in micro and macro ways. Our corporate and business clients are adjusting and transforming because the new normal is continually evolving. The Great Resignation began in 2021, and stats demonstrate it is closely tied to issues of gender equality. The numbers also show it isn’t slowing down. 

 

The Great Resignation began in April of 2021, when a record-setting 3.8 million workers quit their jobs. Many sought better pay, benefits, working conditions. Inequality makes for a toxic environment, so it’s no surprise that women led the way in resignations. In 2021, more women than men left the workforce, and fewer women are taking new jobs. One driver is the necessity of work-life balance — two out of every three families’ caregivers are women, and the pandemic has increased family caregivers’ demands.

 

The exodus of women from the workforce has magnified the structural gender barriers that have long existed. The issue, however, isn’t a women’s issue. It’s everybody’s issue because before the pandemic women held a majority of the country’s jobs. As explained by economist Luke Pardue, this is a red flag for our economy. He stated in an interview with CBS News, “We’re not going to see a full, equitable recovery until women return to the labor force in equal rates to men.”

 

So, what to do? MLG helps our corporate and business clients with a variety of legal matters. Now, we are also having conversations to help our clients examine their business models, cultures, and HR practices. Without good employees to power your business, your customers will be impacted, and you may not be in business for long. The consequences of gender equality in the workplace have moved beyond conversation. They are being heard where it hits the hardest — the bottom line — and many businesses are trying to determine the best path forward. 

 

All that has transpired in 2021, and previously, has brought us to this place. And in 2022, it has been predicted that the Great Resignation will continue. Businesses are bracing themselves, and a new CareerArc/Harris Poll conducted in November indicates that 23% of Americans surveyed are still planning resignations in the next 12 months. Over a third of those said it was based on their desire for better working conditions. 

 

As we look to 2022, what should businesses do to attract and retain good employees? How do you provide better working conditions and re-architect your structural workforce foundation to create gender equality? Here are a few ways to begin.

 

1. In-office and at-home work hybrid mix

Craft flexible policies that focus on what employees deliver and their results versus where they work. This allows flexibility for family caregivers and parents, for example, and it shifts the focus from quantity and location to the quality of the employee and their results. Include offering remote productivity tools to set your employees up for success and make collaboration easy and effective.

 

2. Culture that integrates productivity, development, and wellbeing

A company that cares about its employees sees that reflected in work quality and its customers’ experiences. From investments in high-quality health care, retirement benefits, mental health solutions, time off to recharge, paid sick leave to heal, parental leave, tuition assistance, and more — these investments foster a culture of care and connection that improve overall wellbeing and productivity.   

 

3. Your brand matters

Glassdoor’s 2022 workforce predictions include the expectation that employees and consumers continue to demand and prioritize a company’s actions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. The same holds true for corporate social responsibility in other areas, too. The triple bottom line of people, planet, profit is a measuring stick that job seekers and the public are regularly using. The rise in B Corporations across the globe, tripling in the last five years, for example, is proof.  

 

If 2021 and the pandemic have taught us anything, it is that we are in this together. And our solutions and successes are best achieved together. Under this framework, companies cannot focus solely on the bottom line. Instead, in 2022 more than ever, companies need to take a 360-degree approach to business. The Great Resignation does not discriminate; therefore, the best defense is a good offense — sustainable, long-term, equitable business practices.

3 Construction Law Tips to Help Protect You

From contractor selection to permits, there are a variety of steps you can take to help your construction and remodeling projects run more smoothly. Construction law issues arise for a variety of reasons — when contractors quote a price and then ask for more money or when they require payment up front and do not return to perform the work. 

On the other hand, contractors can perform inferior work and over-promise on what they can deliver. To prevent these and other potential remodeling and construction law headaches, start with these steps.

1. Best Practices for Selecting a Contractor

Don’t be intimidated. Ask questions. A good contractor will be comfortable with and welcome your questions. Use this checklist as you conduct your selection process:

2. Why Permits Are Important

It may not seem like a big deal, but the proper permits are essential when you are working on a remodeling or construction project. A reputable contractor will pull the correct and necessary permits required for each project. The purpose of a permit is to protect you, the property owner, should any problems arise. 

With a permit, once the project is completed, an inspector from your city or county will inspect the work. The inspection verifies that all work has been completed to code. If, however, your contractor does not pull permits for your project, you could face serious consequences depending on the violations. 

These dangers could include electrical and plumbing problems, fires, flooding, unstable walls, improperly installed windows, foundation issues, roofing problems, etc. Municipalities can also issue fines or require that the work be repaired or demolished.   

3. Your Contract Can Be Your Best Friend 

If there is a problem, where will you turn first? Contracts are an important measure of protection if you run into problems with your contractor. The more details that are in your contract, the better. Contracts should contain several terms, including:

An attorney can advise you regarding construction law and guide you through the contract process. A well-prepared contract is the best way to avoid a dispute and be prepared should the unforeseen arise. The right terms and provisions can offer you greater security that your construction project is well planned and that you are well protected. 

If you have questions regarding construction law or contract preparation, please contact us

Resources

To check a contractor’s license status in Florida, search the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation licensing portal.

For permit information for residents of Florida, you can use the following links to review information for your city or county. If you live outside of Florida, your local city or county municipality should have information about permits on their website.

Florida Cities

Hillsborough County, FL

Pinellas County, FL

Pasco County, FL

Polk County, FL

Manatee County, FL

Sarasota County, FL

The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel.

Why I Support John Schifino for Judge

I met John several years ago while attending my first conference on diversity and inclusion. I was shocked to hear a man speak with such humility and expertise on women’s issues. 

Our community and legal system need judges who do not just want to protect us but want to create a community where we do not need protection.

Shifting our focus to understand issues better, connect with others, and educate ourselves on the circumstances that lead to dilemmas we face in our community and courtrooms is the kind of world that John envisions. 

John believes that running a courtroom requires the ability to listen, the patience for details, and the compassion to help those dealing with life-altering situations. For almost 25 years, John has represented clients on both sides of the courtroom, and he understands the lasting impacts on individuals and their families. 

John also believes that our judicial system is a sacred institution, and it should always remain fair and accountable to those who call Hillsborough County “home.”

Recently, it was my distinct honor to introduce John and host a fundraiser for his campaign. Guests included John’s family, friends, colleagues, and supporters as well as voters who wanted to find out more about the candidate. My introduction included his bio — and while you can read about his extensive experience, you need to meet the man.   

John makes time to engage with our community to better understand people and the issues they face. From the moment I met him, I knew that John was a genuine ally to all.  He is willing to engage in difficult conversations on difficult subjects, and he does so with grace, kindness, and respect.

Discover more about John, and learn about his commitment to justice and service to our community.

Surplus Funds Statutes Amendments: Florida Bids Adieu to Surplus Trustee and the 60-Day Claims Bar

On March 21, 2018, Governor Scott approved House Bill 1361. The amendments substantially impact the manner in which surplus funds arising from judicial sales of real and personal property are handled and the time frame for claiming the funds.

The amendments go into effect on July 1, 2019.

The amendments substantially alter the timing of the claims process for subordinate lienholders, those entities with lien interests that may be entitled to distribution of surplus proceeds from the foreclosure sale. For all sales that occur prior to July 1, 2019, subordinate lienholders are required to file their claims to the funds within 60 days from the date of sale, or their claims are forever barred.

Effective for sales occurring on or after July 1, 2019, claims for surplus funds must be filed, “no later than the date that the clerk reports the funds as unclaimed.” The statutory scheme now directs the clerk to follow the statutes governing the escheatment of unclaimed funds to the Department of Financial Services, Division of Unclaimed Property. See §717.113, §717.117, and §717.119.

Surplus funds from foreclosure sales are to be remitted to the Department of Financial Services after one year from the date of the foreclosure sale if the funds have not yet been disbursed by court order. Thus, subordinate lienholders’ time frame within which to file claims for surplus funds is lengthened from 60 days to one year from the date of sale.

For subordinate lienholders, this also means a delayed disbursement of surplus funds because hearings that currently can be set after 60 days from the date of sale must not be set until passage of the one-year deadline.

Significantly for homeowners, House Bill 1361 eliminates the role of surplus trustees appointed by the clerk of court to assist prior titleholders with filing claims. Currently, the clerk of court assists owners who do not file a claim for surplus funds by designating a surplus trustee certified by the Department of Financial Services to assist the owner with their claim.

Once designated, the surplus trustee locates the owner, advises them of the availability of surplus funds, and files the owner’s claim with the court. For sales that occur after July 1, 2019, owners whose property has been sold at a foreclosure sale will be responsible for filing their own claims using the form, Owner’s Claim for Mortgage Foreclosure Surplus, provided by  §45.032(a). An owner’s failure to file a claim by the one-year deadline, in the absence of any subordinate lienholder claim(s), will result in the funds’ transfer to the Division of Unclaimed Property.

The amendments in entirety are available here: Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 1361.

The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel.

Are Women Lawyers Making Strides for Gender Equality in the Legal Profession?

In recent years, the focus on gender equality in the workplace has increased. The awareness is taking place across governments and industries globally, and the issue has been brought to the forefront through movements, studies, and conversations about gender gaps in the labor force. This includes the legal profession, and now, the conversation is impacted further by the effect the pandemic has had on the workplace, families, and women.

 

Job Equality for Women Lawyers

A positive development has been underway in recent years in the legal field with regard to job equality. The number of women lawyers has increased over the past 10 years to approximately 37% of total lawyers, up about six percentage points from ten years ago, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). The number of women enrolled in law school is also increasing. In fact, since 2016, women have outnumbered men in law schools

 

Making Gains

The ABA tracks statistics for law students and lawyers. By the numbers, there is a positive trend with more women entering law, but when you investigate further, you see that more needs to be done. While there are more women lawyers, the percentage of women promoted to partner remains low compared to men. 

 

Studies indicate that only about a quarter of women are partners and even fewer minority women become partners. The ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession aims to educate, advocate for, and promote women in law. Many large firms also have women’s initiatives to promote the advancement and retention of women in law. 

 

The conclusion — women are gaining but still have a long road ahead. Unfortunately, more women than men also leave the legal profession during their careers.

 

Why Women Leave Law

Surveys on why women lawyers leave the legal field have found the reasons are similar to why women leave other professions. The ABA reports three main reasons

 

 

Women face more pressure to maintain a work-life balance when they have a family. A higher percentage of women are responsible for performing and arranging childcare than men. Women lawyers also cite the burnout and stress of work-life imbalance as challenges leading to their exit from the profession. 

 

Other women face sexual harassment and discrimination.  Sexual harassment in the legal field is vastly under-reported, and it is difficult to provide data on this topic.  However, most women attorneys will report that the majority of their female colleagues have suffered sexual harassment in the performance of their jobs.  Sexual discrimination is similarly difficult to track based upon the studies presently in existence.  However, it too is rife in the legal profession and can be in the form of missed opportunities as they are passed over for career-elevating projects, which leads to being passed over for promotions. Remuneration can be discouraging as ABA findings show male partners continue to make more money at a faster rate than women partners. Women who are also minorities are displaced by a lack of workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion, and the added pressure of systemic gendered racism.  

 

COVID-19 Impact

When COVID-19 concerns in the U.S. increased in March of 2020, job losses began to mount, resulting in millions of jobs lost. When schools and daycare centers closed or transitioned to virtual environments, women were more likely to be the family member responsible for caring for the children. According to a report by The Century Foundation and Center for American, mothers leaving the labor force or reducing work hours to assume caretaking responsibilities amounts to $64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity. 

 

As the pandemic threat declines, vaccinations increase, and the economy recovers, women are becoming employed again, but the report finds that it is not at the same rate as men.  For the women who were able to keep their jobs, telecommuting created obstacles. Women lawyers, for example, felt their professional relationships suffered because they lost the opportunity to meet in person with clients, colleagues, and networks. They juggled technology issues and virtual client meetings while also helping children learn from home or dealing with the lessened availability of childcare. 

 

More Progress is Needed

Women are making progress in the legal field, and they are gaining elsewhere, too. Women are making notable advancements, for example, in the medical, accounting, and certified financial planning professions. The more awareness, support, and attention organizations like the ABA and firms place on advancing and retaining women in the legal profession, the more progress everyone will make

Tax Deed Sales Florida House Bill 1383

Beware, lienholders. Amendments to Florida tax deed sales, statute passes House and Senate.

New tax deed sale legislation is on the horizon with substantial implications for lienholders. House Bill 1383 was ordered enrolled on March 9, 2018, after unanimously passing both the House and Senate. HB 1383 proposes amendments to § 197.582, Fla. Stat., that will have the effect of barring claims to surplus tax deed sale funds if certain procedures are not followed.

If the proposed bill becomes law, lienholders will have a hard and fast 120 days from the date of the county clerk’s notice of tax deed sale surplus funds to file a written claim with the clerk for the surplus proceeds. If a lienholder fails to file a claim on or before the close of business on the 120th day following the date of the mailed notice, the claim will be barred, and they will receive no distribution of the surplus funds.

Failure to timely file a claim will constitute a complete waiver of interest in the funds and forever bar all claims to the surplus funds. The foregoing provisions will apply to all claims, except a claim by a property owner.

The proposed amendments also set forth the required form the clerk must use to provide notice of surplus funds. Among other requirements, the clerk’s notice must include a form for making a claim. The amendments also establish the form required to file a claim and how a claim must be filed with the clerk.

The amendments authorize mailing a claim using the U.S. Postal Service, delivering a claim in person or using a commercial delivery service, or sending a claim by fax or email if authorized by the clerk. The filing date would be the date postmarked if mailed, date of delivery if delivered, or date of receipt by the clerk if faxed or emailed.

If Governor Scott approves HB 1383, the proposed amendments will become effective July 1, 2018, and apply to tax deed applications filed on or after October 1, 2018. The bill text in entirety can be found here: House Bill 1383 proposing amendments to § 197.582, Fla. Stat.

The above is intended to inform firm clients and friends about recent developments in the law, including analysis of statutes and new case decisions. This update should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, and readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking the advice of legal counsel.

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