The Florida Bar

November 16, 1970

An attorney investing funds for a client may not charge a full fee to his client and at the same time accept a finder's fee for placing the investments in a particular institution.

CPR: DR 5-107(A)
Opinion: 60-26

Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:

The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar has requested this Committee to review Florida Opinion 60-26 in the following context. Banks are advertising and soliciting lawyers who are members of The Florida Bar to have the lawyers induce their clients to deposit money with said banks with the banks paying the lawyers a finder's fee therefore. Certain specific promotional material has been furnished to the Committee for its review.

In Opinion 60-26, it was determined that subject to full disclosure and written consent of the client, a lawyer could ethically recommend to a client to invest in a certain way, even though the lawyer received what amounts to a finder's or referral fee. The conclusion there reached is amplified in the opinion found in Professional Ethics, The Florida Bar, 1959-1967, at pages 60-61.

The inquiry is now controlled by CPR DR 5-107(A). Based on the language of the cited provision, it would appear that the answer today should be the same as that which obtained under the old Canons and Opinion 60-26. However, a majority of the present Committee determines to partially amend the prior opinion, there being one dissent.

Full disclosure under DR 5-107(A) should not and does not authorize an attorney to charge a full fee to his client and at the same time accept and retain a finder's fee for placing investments for the client in a particular institution. Should the attorney pass on the benefit of the finder's fee to the client or credit the same against fees ordinarily charged for the attorney's services, then there would be no question of the propriety of the practice. Thus, the Committee advises the Board of Governors that Opinion 60-26 is reaffirmed with the additional requirement that the client shall receive the benefit of the finder's or referral fee paid the attorney by the institution seeking the investment. It is intended that this opinion shall apply to all investments of funds.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]