The Florida Bar

May 23, 1969

To represent a lay client in establishing a service to issue lien notices for other laymen, to file claims of lien, and to institute lien foreclosures would constitute assisting the unauthorized practice of law.

Canons: 34, 35 and 47
Opinion: 68-42

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar advises that he has been requested to represent a client under the following set of circumstances:

The client desires to set up a service in which, for a stipulated fee, he will mail and generally prepare Notice to Owners for contractors and subcontractors who desire to pay for the service. The client desires to offer his customers the additional service of guaranteeing the customer to handle any problems arising from non-payment, and involving the Mechanics' Lien Law. My client proposes to, at no additional charge to the customer, file Claims of Lien, if necessary, and institute Mechanics' Lien foreclosure suits at no additional charge to his customers. My client wishes to retain my firm on a retainer basis to handle all of the legal work, including the filing of the Claims of Lien and a foreclosure suit, if necessary. My fee will be coming directly from my client and the contractor or subcontractor will be paying no legal fee, but will be limited to paying only for the sending of the Notice to Owner.

We have no question that the proposal is so clearly the practice of law by a layman that it can be said immediately that participation by a lawyer in this endeavor would clearly violate Canon 47 and, moreover, would be equally violative of Canons 34 and 35 relating to the division of fees with laymen and the intervention of intermediaries between clients and attorneys. Accordingly, in our judgment, it would not be appropriate for an attorney to participate in this arrangement. It is particularly to be emphasized that the proposal in question in no remote way resembles the types of group legal services judicially sanctioned in recent years. See our Opinion 68-42 [since withdrawn].

[Revised: 08-24-2011]