The Florida Bar

June 20, 1964

It is improper for an attorney to accept employment from a real estate broker operating a so-called “tax advisory company,” whereby the broker solicits business and then employs the attorney to present the demand for ad valorem tax reductions to an administrative board.

Canons: 27, 34, 35, 47

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar requests an opinion regarding the propriety of an attorney accepting employment from a real estate broker who operates a so-called “tax advisory company.” Under the facts related, a certified public accountant, and possibly others, solicits business for the broker, who contracts with members of the public to obtain ad valorem tax reductions in Dade County. The broker files a formal complaint with the Board of Equalization and then employs an attorney to present the matter to the Board at the expense of the real estate broker. The taxpayer does not participate in the selection of the attorney.

It is the unanimous opinion of this Committee that it is highly improper for an attorney to participate in the described arrangement. The arrangement, in the opinion of this Committee, constitutes a clear violation of Canon 35, which prohibits the practice of law through an intermediary. In addition, it seems quite likely that the attorney is aiding in the unauthorized practice of law contrary to the provisions of Canon 47 and, very likely, he is also sharing legal fees with a layman contrary to Canon 34 and obtaining legal practice through solicitation, contrary to Canon 27.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]