The Florida Bar

March 31, 1967

Although the sharing of office space by a lawyer with a nonlawyer is not to be encouraged, members of The Florida Bar who rent space in their office for occasional use by an arbitrator may place on their door a legend bearing the name of the arbitrator. The listing must be clearly separate from the listing of the law firm.

Canon: 27

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

AB, a professional arbitrator with a principal office in another state, desires to rent space in an office of members of The Florida Bar. The arbitrator is a member of the bar of the state in which he has his principal office, but is not engaged in the practice of law, devoting his time exclusively to his work as an arbitrator and impartial chairman. He is not admitted to The Florida Bar. The members of The Florida Bar to whom the request for rental is addressed have inquired of this Committee whether it would be appropriate to place on the office door below and distinguished from their own names a legend reading “AB, Arbitrator and Impartial Chairman–Not a Member of The Florida Bar.” It would be contemplated that the office space to be rented would only be used when the occasion arises for the arbitrator to act in his capacity as arbitrator in Florida. No reference to his presence in the suite of offices would be made in answering the telephone, nor would such reference appear on the firm stationery.

Although in our judgment the sharing of office space by a lawyer with a non-lawyer is not to be encouraged, we do not think the proposed arrangement is proscribed by the canons so long as the listing on the door is physically arranged to avoid any misleading connotation that the arbitrator is connected with the firm. In our judgment if the listing is clearly separate from that of the law firm, it is not necessary to add the words “Not a Member of The Florida Bar” because this legend might suggest a lawyer relationship. Most importantly the inquiring members of the Bar must be careful that the sharing of offices does not result in a “feeder” to their practice, indirect advertising of their professional services, sharing of professional fees or professional responsibilities with the arbitrator, or any implication to visitors that their practice is related to the work of the arbitrator.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]