The Florida Bar

June 29, 1962
[Withdrawn 4-10-06]
A lawyer should withdraw as counsel when it becomes necessary for him to testify to material facts on behalf of a client.

Canon: 19
Opinion: ABA 220

Vice-Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar inquires whether it is necessary for him to withdraw as counsel of record in a case in which it now appears that it will be necessary for him to testify on behalf of his client.

It is the opinion of the Committee that he should withdraw entirely from the case and allow it to be prosecuted thereafter by attorneys to whom the matter has been or will be referred. Canon 19 of the Canons of Professional Ethics provides that when a lawyer is a witness for his client, except as to merely formal matters, he should leave the trial of the case to other counsel. The situation involved has frequently come before ethics committees and is treated in great detail in Opinion 220 of the Professional Ethics Committee of the American Bar Association. Florida cases having bearing on the matter may be found in connection with Dudley v. Wilson , 13 So.2d 145 (Fla. 1943).

Although there are circumstances under which a lawyer may testify on behalf of his client and still remain connected with the case, it appears that in this situation the testimony is most material. It is our feeling, therefore, that both the letter and the spirit of the Canons of Professional Ethics require the lawyer's withdrawal from the matter.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]