The Florida Bar

January 8, 1971

If a dispute that arises between an attorney's clients has no relationship to the attorney's representation of either party and the attorney has received no information in regard to the dispute, the attorney may withdraw from representing one client and thereafter represent the other in the dispute.

CPR: DR 2-110, 5-105
Opinion: 70-52

Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has represented an individual and the individual's corporate interests for many years in a continuing relationship. Certain new individual clients were referred to the attorney by the continuing client and after representation of the new clientele had begun, a dispute arose between the continuing client and the new clients, which dispute did not involve the existing representation of any of the parties. The attorney inquires whether he may ethically discharge the new clients in respect to the representation undertaken and thereafter represent the continuing client as to the dispute mentioned.

Accepting the inquirer's statements as they pertain to the new dispute between the clients having no relationship to the attorney's representation of any of the clients and his not having received information from the clients to be discharged as to the matter over which the new dispute exists, there is no ethical objection to the proposed conduct. This is substantially similar to the inquiry found in Florida Opinion 70-52, and the attorney should be guided by CPR DR 5-105 as it relates to refusing to continue employment if the interests of another client may impair his independent professional judgment.

The inquirer's attention is also directed to CPR DR 2-110 involving withdrawal from employment, as the termination of the attorney-client relationship must be within its framework.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]