Florida Senate - 2024                                     SB 170
       By Senator Polsky
       30-00296-24                                            2024170__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to legal representation contracts;
    3         amending s. 16.0155, F.S.; defining the term
    4         “contingency fee”; creating s. 16.0156, F.S.; defining
    5         terms; prohibiting the Department of Legal Affairs
    6         from entering into certain contracts until the
    7         Attorney General makes a specified written
    8         determination; requiring that the determination
    9         include certain findings; requiring the Attorney
   10         General to request proposals from private attorneys
   11         after making such determination; providing that the
   12         written determination does not constitute a final
   13         agency action that is subject to review; providing
   14         that the request for proposals and the contract award
   15         are not subject to challenge under the Administrative
   16         Procedure Act; requiring contracted private attorneys
   17         to maintain certain records and to provide records to
   18         the department at specified intervals; requiring the
   19         department to post and maintain specified information
   20         on its website; requiring the Attorney General to
   21         submit an annual report to the Legislature by a
   22         specified date; providing requirements for the report;
   23         providing an effective date.
   25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   27         Section 1. Present paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1)
   28  of section 16.0155, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as
   29  paragraphs (b) and (c), respectively, and a new paragraph (a) is
   30  added to that subsection, to read:
   31         16.0155 Contingency fee agreements.—
   32         (1) As used in this section, the term:
   33         (a) “Contingency fee” means compensation that is dependent
   34  or contingent in whole or in part on the successful prosecution
   35  or settlement of an action or claim, and such compensation
   36  includes an attorney fee that is authorized by statute.
   37         Section 2. Section 16.0156, Florida Statutes, is created to
   38  read:
   39         16.0156 Legal representation contracts.—
   40         (1)As used in this section, the term:
   41         (a)“Department” means the Department of Legal Affairs.
   42         (b)“Legal representation contract” means any contract for
   43  legal services, other than a contingency fee agreement, entered
   44  into by the department with a private attorney.
   45         (c)“Private attorney” includes a law firm.
   46         (2)The department may not enter into a legal
   47  representation contract until the Attorney General makes a
   48  written determination that such representation is both cost
   49  effective and in the public interest. The determination must
   50  include specific findings regarding each of the following
   51  factors:
   52         (a) Whether sufficient and appropriate legal and financial
   53  resources are available within the department to support the
   54  contract and whether requests for proposals for legal
   55  representation are feasible given the specific circumstances of
   56  the case.
   57         (b) The time, labor, and legal skill level required of the
   58  contracted attorney and the novelty, complexity, and difficulty
   59  of the questions involved in the case.
   60         (c) The geographic area where the attorney services are to
   61  be provided.
   62         (d) The amount of experience required for the particular
   63  legal services to be provided and the nature of the contracted
   64  attorney’s experience with similar issues or cases.
   65         (3) Notwithstanding the exemption provided in s.
   66  287.057(3)(e)4., after the Attorney General makes a
   67  determination under subsection (2), he or she shall request
   68  proposals from private attorneys to represent the department.
   69  The written determination does not constitute a final agency
   70  action subject to review pursuant to s. 120.569 or s. 120.57.
   71  For purposes of this subsection only, the department is exempt
   72  from the requirements imposed by s. 120.57(3), and neither the
   73  request for proposals nor the contract award is subject to
   74  challenge pursuant to s. 120.569 or s. 120.57.
   75         (4) In addition to the requirements set forth in s.
   76  287.059(16), any contracted attorney shall maintain detailed
   77  contemporaneous time records for the attorneys and paralegals
   78  working on the matter in increments not exceeding 1/10 of an
   79  hour and shall provide such records to the department biweekly.
   80         (5) The department shall post and maintain the records on
   81  the department’s website for public inspection for the duration
   82  of the representation. The department shall update the expenses
   83  posted on the website monthly.
   84         (6) Copies of any executed legal representation contract
   85  and the written determination made under subsection (2) must be
   86  posted on the department’s website for public inspection within
   87  5 business days after the date the contract is executed and must
   88  remain posted on the website for the duration of the
   89  representation contract, including any extensions or amendments
   90  thereto. Any payment of fees to the contracted attorney made
   91  pursuant to the contract must be posted on the department’s
   92  website within 15 days after such payment and must remain posted
   93  on the website for at least 365 days thereafter.
   94         (7) By February 1 of each year, the Attorney General shall
   95  submit a report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker
   96  of the House of Representatives describing the use of legal
   97  representation contracts under this section in the preceding
   98  calendar year. At a minimum, the report must:
   99         (a) Identify all legal representation contracts entered
  100  into under this section during that year and all such contracts
  101  previously executed which remain current during any part of that
  102  year. The report must identify all of the following for each
  103  such contract:
  104         1. The name of the private attorney with whom the
  105  department has contracted, including the name of the attorney’s
  106  law firm.
  107         2. The nature and status of the legal matter.
  108         3. The name of the parties to the legal matter.
  109         4. The amount of any recovery.
  110         5. The amount of any fee paid.
  111         (b) Include copies of any written determinations made under
  112  subsection (2) during that year.
  113         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.