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

OPINION 67-16
July 24, 1967

There is no impropriety in advising a corporate client concerning a claim advanced against it by a former employee who was represented by the attorney in a divorce proceeding, provided (1) the claim is totally unrelated to the divorce proceeding; (2) no information procured from the former client in the divorce proceeding would be useful to the corporation in the new matter; (3) the former representation is disclosed to the corporate client; and (4) there is no other circumstance involved that would give an appearance of a conflicting interest.

Canon: 6
Opinion: ABA Informal 891

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

The inquiring member of The Florida Bar formerly represented a then-employee of a corporate client in connection with a divorce proceeding which has been completed. A portion of the fee due from this individual remains unpaid. The attorney is now requested by the corporate client to advise it concerning a claim advanced against the corporation by this same individual whose employment has now been terminated.

The inquirer asks whether such advice by himself or an associate to the corporate client would be improper.

Although we are not provided any details, we assume for purposes of the inquiry that the present claim is totally unrelated to the divorce proceeding and that no information procured from the client in the divorce proceeding would be subject to use or would otherwise inure to the advantage of the corporation in the new matter. We likewise assume that there is no other circumstance involved which would provide an appearance of a conflicting interest. On these assumptions we find no impropriety in the proposed representation. See Drinker, page 112; ABA Informal Opinion 891 (1965).

We do call attention to the fact that the earlier representation of the former employee is a circumstance to be disclosed to the corporate client at the time of undertaking its representation, this being one of the cardinal obligations of disclosure required by Canon 6.

In view of the propriety of the representation by the inquirer, necessarily there would be no impropriety in an associate in his firm handling the matter. If, of course, any of our assumptions are incorrect, it would not be proper for the inquirer or his associates to represent the corporation.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]