The Florida Bar

April 30, 1965

A lawyer may represent a workmen's compensation claimant even though the lawyer has previously acted as attorney for the president of the corporate employer in personal matters and has a close personal relationship with the president, provided that the relationship would not adversely affect the representation of the claimant and did not result in the lawyer having confidential information that would be useful in the representation.

Canons: 6, 11, 37

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has been retained to pursue a workmen's compensation claim brought against a corporation. The president of the corporation is a close personal friend of his and he has previously represented the president although he has never represented the corporation. The claimant, the corporation and its president have been fully advised of the facts mentioned. The inquiry is whether, under the circumstances, he can ethically proceed to represent the claimant in the pending workmen's compensation case.

It is the unanimous view of this Committee that, after full disclosure of the facts and after obtaining the consent of the clients, there is no ethical objection to representing the workmen's compensation claimant against the corporation merely because the president of the corporation is a close personal friend, has been a client, and is now erecting a building on the lawyer's behalf. However, if the representation of the president has resulted in his obtaining any information that might be of value to the claimant, or if the relationship with the president is so close that the lawyer's judgment as an attorney may be affected in advising the claimant, then he should not act for the claimant in the pending proceeding. Canons 6, 11, and 37 of the Canons of Professional Ethics may be involved.

The Committee would deem it prudent to advise all parties concerned in writing of the circumstances and to take such other reasonable steps as might be necessary to obviate any possible misunderstanding.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]