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The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 72-4
March 16, 1972

It is ethical for a law firm to allow a marriage counselor to use the law office facilities for the purpose of counseling domestic relations clients that are referred to her by attorneys of the firm, provided there will be no advertisement of the fact that the counselor is using the office, her name will not appear on the firm letterhead, she will not be held out as a member of the firm, there would be no solicitation on her part, and the office space is used on a part-time basis.

Chairman Clarkson stated the opinion of the committee:

A lawyer whose firm does a great deal of domestic relations work seeks our approval of an arrangement which would make professional counseling more readily available to the firm's clients. After indicating his reluctance to send clients to psychiatrists for counseling because of the cost involved, he further observes that there are no qualified marriage counselors practicing in his area. His letter of inquiry continues:

. . . there is one highly qualified counselor who is married with a family and who doesn't want to counsel on a full time basis. Since this is the case, it would not be feasible for her to rent or buy office space, when she would use it only one or two days a week. Therefore, my question is this:

Is it ethical for a law firm to allow a qualified marriage counselor to use the law office facilities for the purpose of counseling domestic relations clients that are referred to her by attorneys in the firm, if there will be no advertisement of the fact that the counselor is using the office, her name will not appear on our letterhead, we will not hold her out as a member of the firm, there will be no solicitation on her part, and she would use the office space only one day a week?

The inquiring attorney also proposes that the counselor would be paid directly by the client.

Seven members of the Committee have concluded that the proposed arrangement, subject to strict compliance with the restrictions as stated, would not be objectionable. Although the format of this clinical scheme is somewhat novel, it appears to afford the basis for a valuable public service.

Contemporary demands of our changing society cry out for accommodation by the legal profession of new roles and relationships. The Bar need not cling to traditional forms in order to preserve traditional values. Such innovative concepts as “no fault divorce,” “no fault insurance,” group legal services and computerized research, to name only a few, require us to keep pace with the interests which we serve. The public is entitled to nothing less.

Measured by the tests of client interest and public service, the question posed justifies an affirmative answer.

Two committeemen would disapprove the proposal. One points out that the adverse party would be coming to opposing counsel's office without his own lawyer, a circumstance which he feels would make it difficult for the counselor to render advice adverse to her proprietor.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]