Troubled counsel at UWF, does not have Florida license…oops

By Jesse Farthing

The general counsel for the University of West Florida isn’t licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, hasn’t been for nearly two years. The university has changed his job title and The Florida Bar is looking into whether he has, in fact, practiced law without a license on the behalf of UWF.

The Florida Bar opened in June an investigation into Lee Gore, who is in charge of the UWF Office of the General Counsel, after receiving a complaint that he had been practicing law without a license.

Gore was hired in October 2011 for the position of general counsel at the university. A stipulation of employment was that he was to become a member of the Florida Bar within 12 months. That did not happen, which prompted the Florida Bar investigation.

Gore’s position has recently been changed to “Special Assistant to the President” on the UWF General Counsel website. Gore declined to comment on what that job title change meant.

Kim Brown, UWF vice president and chief of staff, said that she is aware of the complaint and that Gore sat and passed the Florida Bar in February 2013 after requesting an additional extension on the 12-month deadline.

“When we became aware of the complaint, we thought that it would a good idea so that there wasn’t any confusion in the future,” Brown said, regarding the change in Gore’s job title. “But his duties haven’t changed.”

Monica Armster Rainge, Bar Counsel in the Unlicensed Practice of Law Department of the Florida Bar, confirmed in a phone interview that “there is a case that exists,” and that Gore “is not a member of the Florida Bar.”

Gore declined to comment on the investigation.

“Well, I’ve responded to the Bar and I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment,” Gore said. “I am sure that they will treat the matter appropriately.”