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

OPINION 72-26
July 10, 1972

A lawyer is not prohibited from owning stock in a corporation engaged in the bail bond business, especially when he does not participate in its management. The lawyer should not refer clients to the business unless the lawyer's interest is disclosed and the client would suffer no detriment.

Opinions: 65-16, 66-16, 66-21, 66-30

Committeeman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:

A Florida lawyer submitted the following succinct inquiry:

I have been asked to buy stock in a corporation being formed for the purpose of operating a bail bond business. Under no circumstances would I participate in the management of the corporation.

1. Is it unethical for me to do so? Does the answer turn on the percentage of control which my shares would represent?

2. Would the ethical considerations be different if I had a categorical policy of not representing any persons bonded by the corporation?

The CPR does not appear to prohibit, per se, a lawyer from owning stock in a corporation engaged in bail bond business, especially when he does not participate in management of the business. The Committee has several times advised that a lawyer is not ethically restrained from engaging in business, if he does not mingle the business with his law practice, either physically or functionally, and if the business does not operate as a feeder to his law practice. See, for example, Opinions 66-16 [since withdrawn], 66-21 [since withdrawn] and 66-30 [since withdrawn]. He also should not use his position as a lawyer to direct a client's patronage to the business, unless the client not only suffers no detriment thereby but also knows of the lawyer's relation to the business and nevertheless chooses or consents to give his patronage to the business.

We caution that our failure to find a violation of a disciplinary rule in the CPR should not be construed as advice that a particular activity should be encouraged as being in the best interest of the legal profession.

Two members of the Committee, relying in part upon our Opinion 65-16 [since withdrawn], find impropriety in the proposed stock ownership because of the close relationship between the corporate business and the practice of law.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]