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The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
OPINION 73-6
August 16, 1973
A lawyer handling a legal aid case may be granted a court-awarded fee even though the lawyer intends to turn the fee over to the legal aid association. But upon requesting the fee, the lawyer must disclose that he is handling the case under the legal aid program. Whether the fee should be awarded is a question for the court to determine.

Vice Chairman Daniels stated the opinion of the committee:

A county bar association has established a legal aid program under which members of the association represent persons on a voluntary basis in litigation. In some cases, a common law statutory right exists to seek attorney's fees from the opposing party. Under the association's standing policy, any fees awarded are turned over to the association. Inquiry is made as to whether lawyers may request court-awarded fees and whether they should disclose to the courts the fact that they are serving under the legal aid program if such fees are requested. A minority of the Committee believes that it is not proper for a lawyer to request a court-awarded fee in cases handled under a legal aid program. However, a majority of the Committee believes that a fee may properly be requested under such circumstances and that:

1. A lawyer may agree with the association that any fees awarded be turned over to the association; and

2. Upon requesting a fee, the lawyer must disclose to the court that he is handling the matter under the legal aid program.

Whether the court should award a fee in a given case is a question of law for the court to determine rather than a legal ethics question.




[Revised: 08-24-2011]