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

OPINION 60-18
December 13, 1967

It may constitute aiding the unauthorized practice of law for a Florida Bar member to accept cases referred to him by a New York bar member residing in Florida and to divide the fee with the New York lawyer.

Canons: 34, 47

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar wishes to know whether it would be proper and ethical for him as a Florida lawyer to accept referrals from a New York lawyer maintaining an office in New York but actually not practicing there and residing in Florida, where he is not admitted and does not practice, on the basis of a division of fees.

The question poses several problems. First, would the New York lawyer be practicing law in Florida by referring Florida clients, and would he render any services other than referral? The Committee feels that for the New York lawyer to refer Florida residents to the inquirer might constitute the unauthorized practice of law, and that it would be definitely improper and unethical if he rendered no services and received a division of the fees.

In an isolated instance, if a member of the New York Bar, presently inactive and residing in Florida, as a courtesy referred a case to a Florida lawyer without asking or expecting any part of the fee and merely as an accommodation to the client, it would be proper for the Florida lawyer to handle the case.

Canon 34 specifically condemns the division of fees for legal services except with another lawyer, and we do not feel that an inactive New York lawyer residing in Florida can qualify as a lawyer under this restriction.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]