The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 64-38
July 3, 1964

An attorney may maintain an office in the claims department of a corporate client for the purpose of handling settlement of claims and defense of actions brought against the corporation, provided that the attorney carries on his other law practice at a different address.

Canons: 27, 35

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar requests our opinion as to the following circumstances. A corporation maintains its own claims department for handling claims brought against the corporation and drivers of its motor vehicles. The claims department maintains offices separate and apart from other offices of the corporation and it is located at a different address. He desires to know if an attorney may ethically defend the corporation and/or drivers of its vehicles in an action at law if the attorney handles such matters from the premises of the claims department. The attorney would not be engaged in the practice of law otherwise at the address of the claims office.

It is the opinion of this Committee that an attorney may properly maintain an office in the claims department of the corporate client for the purpose of handling from that office settlement of claims made against the corporation and defense of actions at law brought against the corporation and/or drivers of its vehicles.

The Committee has no reservation whatsoever, given the circumstances wherein the attorney serves as house counsel for the corporate client and does not render legal services for any other clients at the company's address or at any other address. It is assumed, however, that the attorney will carry on other law practice at a different address. This the Committee considers permissible provided the attorney does not allow the arrangement to result in “feeding” of legal representation to the attorney either at the corporate address or at the address of the attorney's private offices. In this respect, particular attention should be given to representation of individual employees of the corporation. The better practice would be to decline such representation.

Attention is invited especially to the provisions of Canon 27 which prohibit the advertising or solicitation of professional representation.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]