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MEAC Opinions - Advertising & Solicitation

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Opinion

Subject Matter

Current Cites

2013-008PDF Download

As long as the advertising is consistent with mediation statutes, court rules, administrative orders, and the Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, a mediator may employ an individual on his or her behalf to market mediation services. 

Rules 10.520, 10.610, and 10.650

MEAC 2009-006, 2008-003, and 2001-006

2012-008PDF Download

It would be inappropriate and improper for a certified mediator to offer remuneration to individuals who refer students to the certified mediator's mediation certification training programs and any other mediation trainings.

Rules 10.380(e), 10.620 (a)

2011-010PDF Download

It is misleading and inappropriate for a mediator who has completed a Florida Supreme Court mediation training but is not yet certified to advertise him/herself as Florida Supreme Court County Court “Trained” Mediator.

Rule 10.610 Marketing Practices

MEAC Opinion 2002-003

2011-009PDF Download

It is inappropriate to use a business name or phrase to advertise mediation services that portrays the mediation process or the role of a mediator in a manner that is untrue, misleading or demeans the dignity of the mediation process or the judicial system.

Rules 10.210, 10.220 and 10.610 (a), (e) and (f)

2011-008PDF Download

Answer to Question One:  As stated in SC09-1384, “an accurate representation of the mediator’s judicial experience in references to background and experience in bios and résumés would not be inappropriate.” [emphasis added]  The MEAC does not have the power or authority to determine the answers to the questions posed with regard to constitutional rights.  

Answer to Question Two:  The MEAC does not have the power or authority to determine constitutional rights and therefore declines to answer this question.  

Answer to Question Three: It is false and misleading and therefore prohibited for a certified mediator to use letterhead that is entitled “Judge ______(ret) or “former judge”.

Rule 10.610

Commentary to Rule 10.610

MEAC Opinion 2010-003

Florida Supreme Court’s Opinion in SC09-1384 (April 1, 2010)

2010-013PDF Download

A former judge is prohibited from using the term “Judge Emerita” in the title of the mediator’s company, as depicted on stationery, business cards, the title of a website homepage, and other marketing material.  The Committee maintains confidence in and refers mediators to MEAC Opinion 2010-003 which addresses this marketing restriction in more detail.

MEAC Opinion 2010-003

Rule10.610  & Commentary to Rule 10.610

Florida Supreme Court Opinion SC09-1384

2010-003PDF Download

The use of the word “judge” in the title of the mediator’s company, as depicted on stationery, business cards, the title of a website homepage, and other marketing materials is prohibited.

Rule 10.610(d)

Commentary to Rule 10.610 Florida Supreme Court Opinion SC09-1384 

2010-001PDF Download

A certified mediator may designate mediation clients (parties) or attorneys who participate in mediations with the mediator as “friends” on a social networking site, and permit clients or attorneys to add the mediator as their “friend”.  A mediator should keep in mind that doing so may limit the clients with whom the mediator may work in the future.   

Rules 10.330 (a)-(b), 10.340(a)-(c), 10.340 Committee Note

2009-008PDF Download

Answer to Question 1:  Advertisements of mediation services must be accurate and honest and may not contain false or misleading information.  If the mediator in this instance is, in fact, a former circuit judge, then a representation of same in an advertisement for mediation services is neither inaccurate nor dishonest. 

Answer to Question 2:  An advertisement offering evaluation services as mediation is misleading and a violation of the mediator advertising rule.

Answer to Question 3:  To avoid engaging in a marketing practice which contains misleading information, the mediator should make clear that the listing is for types of cases handled rather than certification areas. 

Rules 10.610 and 10.660,

MEAC Opinions 2004-001 and 1995-007

2009-006PDF Download

A certified mediator may provide a curriculum vita, solicited or unsolicited, to a trial judge for the purpose of receiving case referrals from that judge.  

Rules 10.510, 10.530, 10.610

Rule 1.720(f)(2), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 8.290(e)(1) , Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure

Rule 12.741(6)(B), Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure  

2009-005PDF Download

Although the rules do not explicitly prohibit mediators from holding themselves out as “experts” in advertisements and web pages, communications regarding mediator qualifications or services must be both accurate and honest and may not contain false or misleading information.

Rule 10.610

MEAC Opinions 2004-001 and 2002-003

2009-001PDF Download

It is not permissible to serve as a general magistrate and mediator for the same case.

Rules 10.310; 10.330; 10.340; 10.360; 10.900

MEAC Opinion 96-002

2008-005PDF Download

A.  A mediator may ethically engage in unsolicited direct marketing to the parties and/or attorneys in dissolution of marriage cases using information posted online by court clerks, but may do so only in strict compliance with Rule 10.610 governing mediator advertising.  Any mediator engaging in this practice must also bear in mind the extent to which mishandling such communication may damage the reputation of individual mediators and community acceptance of the profession at large.

 

B.  It is not ethical for a mediator to send out a notice of mediation directly to the parties in the manner suggested in the inquiry.  

Rules 10.310(b), 10.330(a), 10.520, 10.610, 10.620, and 10.650

Rules 12.740 and 12.741

Rule 4-7.4(b)(2), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar

MEAC Opinions 2001-006 and 2003-004

2008-003PDF Download

A mediator is not prohibited from including accurate information in marketing material so long as it is not misleading; therefore, the mediator may use the information and/or logo, if it is clear that the rating relates to the attorney-mediator’s law practice (as opposed to his/her mediation practice).  

Rule 10.610

MEAC Opinions 2004-001 and 2007-006

2007-006PDF Download

A mediator who was a former judge may include the referenced information in marketing material if the information is accurate and honest and is not false or misleading.

Rule 10.610

MEAC Opinions 1999-013, 2002-003, and 2004-001

2006-001PDF Download

If the quotation provided is the complete advertisement and the telephone number relates to a person (or company) that does provide mediation services[“Got Conflict…Mediate, Divorce through mediation contested or uncontested. Call 555-5555”], it does not violate the mediator’s ethical standard for advertising.  However, if the advertising mediator is not competent to mediate the cases advertised, or if there were additional text which was false or misleading, the advertisement would violate rule 10.610. 

Rules 10.100(e), 10.370, 10.610, and 10.640; 1.720(f), 8.290(e) &  12.741(b)(6)

MEAC 99-013, 2000-004 and 2000-009

2004-005PDF Download

Providing a party, upon request, with information which could have been provided at an earlier point in the mediation process does not constitute solicitation of services and thus is not a violation of these rules.   

Rules 10.330(a) and (c), 10.340, 10.610

MEAC 97-007

2004-001PDF Download

In regard to a mediator advertisement with the reference to being a “judge”, the use of the term “judge” alone may confuse or mislead the public in violation of rule 10.610. The mediator may need to include clarifying information in order for such practice to be permissible. 

Rule 10.610

MEAC 2002-003 and 99-013

2002-004PDF Download

Sponsoring a sports tournament which is open to the public or holding a silent auction to raise monies for charitable causes for the purpose of advertising (incorporating the name of a mediation firm) are permissible if consistent with rules 10.330, 10.340, 10.610 and 10.620.

Rules 10.330, 10.340, 10.610 and 10.620

MEAC 2001-006

2002-003PDF Download

The generic designation “certified mediator” is inherently misleading and therefore in violation of rule 10.610 

Rule 10.610

MEAC 99-013 

2001-006PDF Download

Letters to attorneys and other parties advertising one’s services are permissible.

Logo embossed items of minimal value are permissible forms of advertising. Items of greater value may create the appearance of mediator bias, and therefore, should be avoided.

Lunches and golf outings paid for by the mediator for the purpose of developing goodwill and attracting future clients are inappropriate activities.

Rules 10.330(c), 10.340, 10.610 and 10.620

Committee Notes to rule 10.340

99-013PDF Download

Letterhead which includes 2 names and the statement “Circuit Court Mediation” along with other designations where only one of the named persons are certified constitutes misleading advertising, and therefore, is violative of the rules.

Rule 10.610

Note: Changes to the rules in 2000 may impact this opinion. 

98-001PDF Download

Sending follow-up letters with information on a mediator’s services sent after a mediator withdraws or report is filed with the court, does not violate the rules so long as it is done consistent with impartiality and advertising rule requirements.

Rule 10.330(c)

Note: Changes to the rules in 2000 may impact this opinion. 

97-008PDF Download

Producing a TV show with real parties in a live mediation in not a violation so long as the parties are informed of their right to confidentiality and waive it.

Rule 10.360

Section 44.405(2), Florida Statute

Note: Changes to the statute in 2004 and rules in 2006 may impact this opinion.

97-007PDF Download

Using the mediation process to incur future business as a realtor is a violation of the rules.

Rule 10.330(c)

96-004PDF Download

A mediator is not prohibited from soliciting letters of reference from persons for whom s/he has served as a mediator. Evaluations are not categorically excluded from use in advertising so long as the advertising is truthful.

Rules 10.330(c), 10.360(c), 10.610, 10.690(c)

95-007PDF Download

It is unethical to advertise that a mediator will provide a “dispassionate evaluation.”

Rule 10.610

Section 44.1011, Florida Statutes

95-006PDF Download

It is inappropriate for a certified mediator to use the State Seal or Seal of the Supreme Court of Florida on any advertisements without express permission.

Rule 10.520

Section 15.03, Florida Statutes

Contact

For additional information please contact The Dispute Resolution Center at 850-921-2910 or at DRCmail@flcourts.org.