Joseph A. Corsmeier

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Professional Liability Attorney in Palm Harbor, FL

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
 | 2999 US-19 ALT, Suite A
Palm Harbor, FL 34683
Phone: 727-361-2796
Fax: 727-799-1670
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2013, 2015 - 2017, 2020
Licensed Since: 1985
Practice Areas:
  • Professional Liability: Defense (80%),
  • Administrative Law (20%)
    Attorney Profile

    Joseph A. Corsmeier is a Palm Harbor, Florida-based attorney focusing his practice on legal ethics and responsibility. The president and owner of the Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A., Mr. Corsmeier serves clients throughout the Tampa metropolitan area.

    Mr. Corsmeier has over 20 years of experience representing attorneys and other professionals in many different types of hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court. He handles issues involving professional conduct, professional discipline, professional malpractice and attorney discipline.

    Prior to concentrating on defending attorneys in ethical matters, Mr. Corsmeier spent eight years serving as a prosecutor for The Florida Bar Department of Lawyer Regulation. He has been working on the defense side of ethics and responsibility matters since 1998.

    Martindale-Hubbell awarded Mr. Corsmeier an AV Preeminent* peer review rating. This is the highest available rating, intended to recognize outstanding legal capability and high ethical standards.

    A member of several professional organizations, Mr. Corsmeier belongs to the St. Petersburg Bar Association, The Florida Bar, the American Bar Association and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. He is also a member of the Clearwater Bar Association, previously serving as president-elect and on the board of directors.

    Mr. Corsmeier earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and received his law degree from Mercer University School of Law. He holds a license to practice law before all Florida state courts, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Supreme Court of the United States.

    *AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

     
    Practice Areas
    • 80%Professional Liability: Defense
    • 20%Administrative Law
    Focus Areas

    Legal Malpractice, Ethics & Professional Responsibility, Licensing

    Selections

    Selected to Super Lawyers for 11 yearsbottom-image

    Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2013, 2015 - 2017, 2020

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  • Florida Supreme Court reprimands lawyer for distributing settlement funds without paying medical provider which had letter of protection (2016) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the March 3, 2016 Florida Supreme Court Order and reprimanding a lawyer for failing to pay a provider who held a letter of protection in a personal injury matter from the proceeds of a personal injury settlement. The case is: The Florida Bar v. Daniel J. Grieco, II, Case No.: SC16-225, TFB File No.: 215-10,507 (6A) (March 3, 2016).

  • Florida Bar Ethics Committee votes to publish proposed opinion providing guidance in responding to negative online reviews (2020) - This Ethics Alert discusses the recent vote by the Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee (PEC) to publish a proposed ethics advisory opinion providing guidance to lawyers in responding to negative online reviews and complaint for comment. 

  • Pennsylvania lawyer disbarred after practicing law for 17 years while under administrative suspension (2019) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss a recent disbarment of a lawyer who continued to practice law for 17 years while suspended for failing to pay the annual registration fee.

  • Illinois lawyer who electronically signed an “incoherent” appeal brief written by his client is sanctioned by U.S. Seventh Circuit (2019) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which discusses the recent sanctions imposed by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on an Illinois lawyer who electronically signed an appellate brief which was “incoherent and filled with utterly baseless factual assertions.” apparently drafted by his client.

  • ABA issues Formal Opinion 487 providing guidance regarding fee divisions in contingency cases when a lawyer is replaced (2019) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent American Bar Association Formal Opinion 487, which provides guidance regarding the requirements of fee divisions in contingency fee matters when the initial lawyer is replaced by a successor lawyer.  ABA Formal Opinion 487 is here: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/news/2019/06/FormalOpinion487.pdf

  • Florida Bar Board of Governors approves proposed Bar rule prohibiting misleading law firm information in all lawyer advertisements (2019) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent suspensions of 3 New York law firm partners for failing to supervise an office manager who stole more than $200,000.00 from the firm’s trust account.

  • New York ethics opinion finds that fees paid to Avvo for legal services violate referral, fee splitting ,and advertising Bar rules (2017) - New York ethics opinion finds that fees paid to Avvo for legal services violate referral, fee splitting ,and advertising Bar rules Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss recent (August 8, 2017) New York Ethics Opinion 1132 which found that lawyers in New York are prohibited from participating in AVVO’s client referral services. This opinion found that the referral services violate the Bar rules since they involve improper “vouching for” (and recommendation of) the lawyer, improper lawyer referral fees, and fee sharing with a non-lawyer. The companion New York Ethics Opinion 1131 (August 8, 2017) sets forth the structures of various web-based services and attempts to explain how those services could comply with the New York Bar Rules.  Both New York State Bar Ethics Opinions are here: http://www.nysba.org/EthicsOpinion1132/ and here: http://www.nysba.org/EthicsOpinion1131/NYSBA Ethics Opinion 1132 states that, since Avvo Legal Services provides ratings of lawyers using the service based on various qualifiers such as years in practice, information provided by the lawyers, volunteer bar work and other publicly available information, and offers to find a client “the right” lawyer with a money-back guarantee, there is an implied recommendation as to the lawyer’s “credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities”; therefore, the marketing fee is “an improper payment for a recommendation in violation the New York  Bar Rules. The opinion also states that since “the Avvo website also extols the benefits of being able to work with highly rated lawyers,” it creates a reasonable impression that it is recommending its top-rated lawyers.   “Avvo is giving potential clients the impression that a lawyer with a rating of ‘10’ is ‘superb,’ and is thus a better lawyer for the client’s matter than a lawyer with a lower rating. Avvo is also giving potential clients the impression that Avvo’s eligibility requirements for lawyers who participate in Avvo Legal Services assure that participating lawyers are ‘highly qualified.’” The opinion sates that Avvo Legal Services’ “satisfaction guarantee” also contributes to the impression that Avvo is recommending its lawyers’ services “because it stands behind them to the extent of refunding payment if the client is not satisfied.” According to the opinion, Comment 1 of New York Rule 7.2 prohibits a lead generator not only from stating that it is recommending a lawyer, but also from implying or creating a reasonable impression that it is making such a recommendation. NYSBA Ethics Opinion 1132 concludes: “This opinion does not preclude a lawyer from advertising bona fide professional ratings generated by third parties in advertisements, and we recognize that a lawyer may pay another party (such as a magazine or website) to include those bona fide ratings in the lawyer’s advertisements. But Avvo Legal Services is different. It is not a third party, but rather the very party that will benefit financially if potential clients hire the lawyers rated by Avvo. Avvo markets the lawyers participating in the service offered under the Avvo brand, generates Avvo ratings that it uses in the advertising for the lawyers who participate in Avvo Legal Services, and effectively ‘vouches for’ each participating lawyer's credentials, abilities, and competence by offering a full refund if the client is not satisfied. As noted earlier, Avvo says: ‘We stand behind our services and expect our clients to be 100% satisfied with their experience’” Accordingly, we conclude that lawyers who pay Avvo’s marketing fee are paying for a recommendation, and are thus violating Rule 7.2(a). ”NYSBA Ethics Opinion 1131 sets forth the structures of various web-based services and attempts to explain how those services could potentially comply with the New York Bar Rules. That opinion concludes: “A lawyer may pay a for-profit service for leads to potential clients obtained via a website on which potential clients provide contact information and agree to be contacted by a participating lawyer, as long as (i) the lawyer who contacts the potential client has been selected by transparent and mechanical methods that do not purport to be based on an analysis of the potential client’s legal problem or the qualifications of the selected lawyer to handle that problem; (ii) the service does not explicitly or implicitly recommend any lawyer, and (iii) the website of the service complies with the requirements of Rule 7.1. A lawyer who purchases such a lead to a potential client may ethically telephone that potential client if the potential client has invited the lawyer selected by the service to make contact by telephone.”Bottom line: New York has now joined the list of jurisdictions finding that Avvo’s “marketing fee” taken from fees paid to lawyers using its client generation services violate ethics rules and are impermissible referral fees. This New York ethics opinion (like all ethics opinions) is advisory only; however, it is the most recent finding that the fee charges in AVVO’s plan constitute improper referral fees and fee sharing. Other jurisdictions (such as a pending North Carolina opinion) may also publish ethics opinions in the future. Stay tuned……and be careful out there.

  • New York State Bar ethics opinion addresses ethics issues when a lawyer copies a client with communications to opposing counsel (2016) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent New York State Bar Association Ethics Opinion addressing ethics issues related to a lawyer sending correspondence to opposing counsel and copying the client. The Ethics Opinion is NYSBA Ethics Op. 1076 (Dec. 2015) and the opinion is here: http://www.nysba.org/CustomTemplates/Content.aspx?id=60757

  • Potential Florida Bar ethics advisory opinion 17-2 will address lawyer referral fees and private client matching services (2017) - Potential Florida Bar ethics advisory opinion 17-2 will address lawyer referral fees and private client matching services Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss recent decision by the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors (BOG) to consider a potential ethics advisory opinion to address the ethics issues surrounding lawyer referral fees and private client matching services. The advisory opinion has not been drafted; however, the draft opinion will be identified as Proposed Advisory Opinion 17-2. The Bar review began after a lawyer sent an ethics inquiry to The Florida Bar asking whether lawyers could participate with a private lawyer referral service which planned to charge a different set fee depending upon the type of case referred. The lawyer referred to the system “as a ‘pay-per-lead’ structure. ”The lawyer’s inquiry was referred to the BOG and, at its July 21, 2017 meeting in Miami, the BOG unanimously approved the recommendation of the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics (BRCPE) that it be directed to prepare an advisory opinion on the inquiry, specifically whether lawyer referral services can charge a fee per referral and impose different fees for different types of cases. The BRCPE has authority to decline drafting an opinion and the BOG could also decide not to issue the opinion if it is drafted. If an ethics advisory opinion is drafted, it will address the ethics issues created when online entities (such as AVVO) rolled out programs which attempt to match potential clients with lawyers and which make different payments depending on the type of case. The opinion would also address the Bar rules related to advertising and referral services. Lawyers and others will be able to comment on the issues before any opinion is drafted and/or approved. The Florida Bar Rules have long prohibited lawyers from sharing fees with private referral services. The Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising (SCA) also rejected “pay-per-lead” plans on previous appeals and the BOG rejected an appeal from a referral service that proposed a payment of $300.00 to participating lawyers for each referred and accepted case in 2012. Other jurisdictions have published ethics opinions addressing these issues or are in the process of reviewing them. As I reported in a recent Ethics Alert blog, New York Ethics Opinion 1132 (published August 8, 2017) found that New York lawyers are prohibited from participating in AVVO’s client referral services. The opinion found that lawyers who participate in AVVO’s client referral services (and any similar services) would violate the New York Bar rules since they involve AVVO’s improper “vouching” for (recommendation of) the lawyer, improper lawyer referral fees, and improper fee sharing with a non-lawyer. As background, The Florida Bar filed a petition with proposed Bar rule amendments with the Florida Supreme Court in 2015 addressing, inter alia, referral services that offer both legal and medical or other non-legal services. Those proposed rules would have allowed lawyers to participate in those services, as long as clients were informed about potential conflicts, there was no quid pro quo requiring the lawyer to send a referred client for medical or other services offered by the referral agency, and the lawyer’s independent judgment was not affected. The Florida Supreme Court published an opinion on September 24, 2015 declining to implement the rule revisions and instructed the Bar to draft rules that “preclude Florida lawyers from accepting referrals from any lawyer referral service that is not owned or operated by a member of the Bar. ”That opinion is here: 9/24/15 SC Opinion The Florida Bar then filed revised rule amendments designating private entities which match lawyers with potential clients as “qualified providers” and requiring those entities to comply with the Bar rules, including a required review of the advertisements. Participating lawyers would not have been required to carry malpractice insurance. The Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument in April 2017 and then published an order dismissing the petition on May 3, 2017. That order is here: 5/3/17 SC Order. The order stated: “In this case, the Bar proposes amendments to rule 4-7.22 that do not comply with the Court’s direction concerning lawyer referral services that are not owned or operated by a member of the Bar and that seek to expand the scope of the rule to include “matching services” and other similar services not currently regulated by the Bar. The May 3, 2017 Order also stated that the dismissal was without prejudice “to allow the members of this Court to engage in informed discussions with the Bar and those who are in favor or against the proposed regulation of matching and other similar services. The Court lacks sufficient background information on such services and their regulation at this time.”A meeting was held at the June 2017 Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton to discuss the issues and was attended by Justices, Bar officials, and representatives of private referral services. The Bar’s Notice of the proposed ethics advisory opinion was published in the August 15, 2017 issue of the Florida Bar News. The Bar’s Notice is here: 8/15/17 Notice of Proposed advisory opinion 17-2. According to the Notice: “The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics will consider adopting a proposed advisory opinion at the direction of The Florida Bar Board of Governors based on an inquiry by a member of The Florida Bar, at a meeting to be held on Thursday, December 7, 2017, from 1-3 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island.” and “comments from Florida Bar members are solicited on the issues presented. Comments must contain Proposed Advisory Opinion number 17-2, must clearly state the issues for the committee to consider, may offer suggestions for additional fee arrangements to be addressed by the proposed advisory opinion, and may include a proposed conclusion. Comments should be submitted to Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300, and must be postmarked no later than 30 days from the date of this publication.” Bottom line: If the ethics opinion is drafted and approved, Florida will join the growing list of jurisdictions addressing “marketing fees” taken from fees paid by private online entities to lawyers participating in client generation services. This ethics opinion (like all ethics opinions) would be advisory and for guidance only. Stay tuned and be careful out there.

  • Referee recommends that former Florida judge who accepted Tampa Bay Rays tickets be suspended for 90 days and placed on probation (2018) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Report of Referee which recommends that former Lee County Judge John Lakin, who was alleged to have improperly accepted tickets to Tampa Bay Rays baseball games, be suspended from practice for 90 days and be placed on probation for one year. The case is The Florida Bar v. John Francis Lakin, SC17-542. The June 25, 2018 Report of the Referee is here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4564632-Referee-Report-Lakin.html The Judicial Qualification Commission charged the judge with misconduct in 2016 alleging, inter alia, that he had requested and received Tampa Bay Rays tickets from a law firm in 2015 while presiding over a pending case in which the law firm represented one of the parties. A jury ruled in favor of opposing party; however, the judge subsequently reversed that verdict in favor of the law firm’s client. Five of the tickets that the judge received were given to him the day before he reversed the jury verdict. The judge denied that the receipt of the tickets influenced his actions and later retired from the bench and went into private practice. The Florida Bar filed a Complaint in March 2017 alleging that the lawyer violated Bar Rules related to dishonesty, deceitfulness, misrepresentation and/or fraud. The referee assigned to hear the Bar matter recommended that the former judge’s law license be suspended for 90 days, and that he be placed on supervised probation one year, complete the Bar’s practice and professionalism enhancement program, “speak to new judges” about the circumstances, and pay the Bar’s costs of $5,244.00. Under the Florida Bar rules, the referee’s report will now be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court, which will render a final disciplinary opinion. The judge and The Florida Bar can file a petition with the Court to review the findings and file briefs. Bottom line: his former judge accepted tickets from lawyers who were representing a party before him on a pending case and, soon after receiving the tickets, made a ruling which favored that law firm’s clients. Even if the tickets did not influence the judge’s decision, the circumstances would certainly seem to create an appearance of impropriety and an arguable violation of the Judicial Canons. The referee has now recommended that the judge be found guilty of Florida Bar Rule violations and suspended from practicing law for 90 days. The Florida Supreme Court will now decide whether the referee’s findings will be upheld.

  • Can a referring lawyer be held liable for the referral lawyer’s malpractice? (2016) - This article will discuss whether a lawyer could be potentially liable for another lawyer’s legal malpractice (and potential Bar rule violations) by making a referral. The short answer is yes. Of course, under the Florida Bar lawyer disciplinary rules and most, if not all, jurisdictions, it is certainly ethical for a lawyer to refer a case to another lawyer and receive a referral fee; however, there are certain requirements under the rules and the referring lawyer might be held liable for any malpractice by the referral lawyer.

  • Maine Supreme Court holds that competent expert testimony is required to prove causation in legal malpractice actions (2017) - Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the March 21, 2017 opinion of the Maine Supreme Court which held that expert testimony that is not based on supporting facts in the record was insufficient to prove that a lawyer’s alleged negligence caused the plaintiff's injury. In addition, a “corrected affidavit” which contradicts the expert’s clear deposition testimony is insufficient. The case is Brooks v. Lemieux, 2017 ME 55 (Maine Supreme Judicial Court March 21, 2017) and the opinion is here: http://www.courts.maine.gov/opinions_orders/supreme/lawcourt/2017/17me55br.pdf.

  • About Joseph Corsmeier

    Admitted: 1985, Florida

    Professional Webpage: https://www.jac-law.com/

    Honors/Awards:

    • Pro bono, Community Law Program: Certificates of Appreciation for “Outstanding dedication in providing pro bono legal services to the indigent of Pinellas County- 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998, Certificates of Appreciation for “Outstanding dedication in providing pro bono legal services to the indigent of Pinellas County, Community Law Program, 2020

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • Admitted, Supreme Court of the United States Admitted, United States District Court, Middle District of Florida Admitted, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Bar Admitted, The Florida Bar, 2020

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • Member, Supreme Court of the United States Bar Member, United States District Court, Middle District of Florida Bar Member, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Bar Member, American Bar Association (Professionalism Section) Member, Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers Member, The Florida Bar's Professionalism (Hawkins) Commission 2011-2012 Member, The Florida Bar's Vision 2016 Commission 2013-2016 Member, The Florida Bar’s Special Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services- 2020-2021 Clearwater Bar Association (1986-present) (Board of Directors 2004-2008, President-Elect 2008-2009, President 2009-2010, Immediate Past President 2010-2011) St. Petersburg Bar Association (1987-present) American Bar Association Center for Prof. Responsibility CLE Committee (2014-present) The Florida Bar, Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee, 2018-2019, 2019-2020. The Florida Bar, Professional Ethics Committee, (2007-2013) Law Office Management Advisory Services, Inc. Advisory Board (2007-2013) (Board Vice-Chair 2011-2013) The Florida Bar, Law Student Education and Admission to The Bar Committee (2005-2006, 2018-2020) Board Member, Thomson Reuters/Super Lawyers Ethics Advisory Board Panel Member, Westlaw Expert Round Table Group AV” Rated, Martindale-Hubbell Rated as “Superlawyer” 2007-2013, 2015-2019 Pro bono, Community Law Program: Certificates of Appreciation for “Outstanding dedication in providing pro bono legal services to the indigent of Pinellas County- 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998 Marquis' Who's Who in American Law, 14th Edition, 2005 ABA Center for Professional Responsibility Continuing Legal Education Committee 2014-2015, 2020

    Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

    • Author of numerous articles for various bar publications, has spoken at numerous local and statewide seminars on various topics, including ethics and professionalism, and was an instructor of legal ethics for paralegals at Rollins College., Author, Numerous articles and blogs on lawyer ethics rules and cases
    • This Ethics Alert discusses the recent decision by New York to eliminate the current mental health question regarding current mental, emotional, psychiatric, nervous or behavioral disorder or condition, or alcohol, drug or other substance abuse or gambling addiction conditions or impairments which impairs or limits the applicant’s ability to practice law on Bar applications. , Ethics Alert, New York removes current mental health and impairment question from NY Bar admission application, Blog, Law, Legal Ethics, 2020
    • This Ethics Alert discusses the recent Ohio Supreme Court opinion indefinitely suspending an Ohio lawyer who stole over $128,674.30 from mentally ill client, including charging hourly rate for mowing her lawn, helping find an apartment, and shopping for her. , Ethics Alert, Ohio lawyer who stole $128,674.30 from mentally ill client, including charging hourly rate for mowing her lawn, indefinitely suspended, Blog, Law, Legal Ethics, 2020

    Newsletters:

    Educational Background:

    • Juris Doctor: Mercer University Walter George School of Law, Macon, Georgia Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts: Florida State University

    Industry Groups

    • Florida lawyers
    • Florida licensed professionals
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    Office Location for Joseph A. Corsmeier

    2999 US-19 ALT
    Suite A
    Palm Harbor, FL 34683

    Phone: 727-361-2796

    Fax: 727-799-1670

    Joseph A. Corsmeier:

    Last Updated: 6/19/2020

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