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

OPINION 69-42
November 26, 1969

An attorney may not provide a lay agency with Lawyers' Title Guaranty Fund insurance policies for sale to the public.

Canons: 35 and 47

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar poses the following question with reference to his own proposed conduct:

John Smith has been a qualified abstracter of titles for many years. Having worked for a title insurance company, also for a lengthy period, he is extremely familiar with and has handled innumerable real estate closings for the company. Smith desires to form a corporation for profit and the business of the corporation is to provide abstracting, escrow services, real estate closings and title insurance. He proposes to provide Lawyers' Title Guaranty Fund insurance written by a Florida attorney who is a member of the Fund. The attorney will form Smith's corporation but will have no interest therein of whatsoever nature or description. The attorney will not be present at any of the closings nor will he represent any of the parties unless they were his clients previous to the proposed transaction. Remuneration for the attorney would be fifty per cent (50%) of the amount normally charged by the attorney to other persons for like title insurance and underwritten by the Fund. The attorney would not be responsible nor would he share in any of the costs and expenses of Smith's operation. Smith would deal with the attorney exclusively and on a contractual basis for a stipulated period of time. Upon issuance of any title policy by the attorney, Smith, and not the attorney, would effect its delivery. Both Smith and the attorney are aware that the attorney's name must appear on any of the Fund policies.

In essence, the attorney proposes to provide a lay agency Lawyers' Title Guaranty Fund insurance policies for its sale to the public. Laying aside our grave doubts that the Lawyers' Title Guaranty Fund can or would permit its policies to be so issued by its members, we have no hesitancy in concluding that the particular facts outlined are clearly violative of Canons 35 [practice of law through intermediaries] and 47 [aiding unauthorized practice of law] and that the attorney may not engage in the proposed arrangement with the prospective title insurance seller.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]