The Florida Bar

March 27, 1972

It is not improper for an attorney to accept clients from an insurance agent on a recurring basis if there is no financial arrangement between the agent and the attorney.

Opinion: 64-70

Chairman Clarkson stated the opinion of the committee:

A Florida Lawyer states his inquiry in the following manner:

An insurance agent has recommended to several of his clients that there is a possibility that they need estate planning, key-man insurance, buy-sell agreements, etc. He consequently has recommended that his clients contact this firm, the writer in particular, to analyze their estates, make recommendations, and if necessary to draw the necessary documents.

While the agent originally was recommending such prospective clients without my knowledge, it now appears that he will continue
to send me more and more prospective clients.

The question submitted is whether the lawyer may accept referral of clients from the insurance agent on a recurring basis. No financial arrangement between the agent and attorney is suggested.

In Florida Opinion 64-70 we advised against acceptance of employment under somewhat similar circumstances because of the appearance of a channelling of legal employment. One material difference was that there the attorney was employed in the first instance by the insurance agent.

Assuming there is no business or financial relationship between the insurance agent and the lawyer, a majority of the committee finds no impropriety in the acceptance of referrals provided their volume is not so great as to raise suspicion of an unethical arrangement. This test is necessarily somewhat subjective, and any doubt should be resolved against continuation of such employment.

Three members of the Committee dissent and would reaffirm the advice given in paragraph 4 of opinion 64-70, which they find applicable to this inquiry.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]