The Florida Bar

August 21, 1962

The Committee declined to approve a lawyer's charging fees and expenses received from one case against the proceeds of another case. Rather, the Committee suggested that the matter be presented to the court by petition for instructions.

Canon: 14

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

The Florida Bar Committee on Professional Ethics has considered the problem presented by a member where his client, after agreeing to settlement in two personal injury cases and having the same announced in open court, then refused to sign releases in one case. The lawyer received payment in the case in which releases were signed and holds the funds in his trust account.

He desires our approval of his charging his fees and expenses in both cases against the settlement received in the one case. We regret that we cannot give our approval of this procedure. It seems to us that the problem is more one of law than of ethics. We would suggest that the matter be presented to the court by a petition for instructions.

He has clearly earned his fees in the one case and can deduct them from the amounts received. As to the other case, he might present a petition to the court for instructions, or he might ask the court for leave to withdraw as counsel and have a lien for fees declared by the court against any subsequent settlement.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]