The Florida Bar

November 10, 1972

If a member of a professional association accepts employment as an assistant public defender, no other member of such association may handle criminal cases.

CPR: DR 5-105(D)
Statute: F.S. >27.51(3)

Vice Chairman Daniels stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of a professional association contemplates accepting employment by a public defender to handle appellate work for the latter. Inquiry is made as to whether such employment would preclude other members of the inquirer's law firm from handling criminal cases.

F.S. 27.51(3) provides that assistant public defenders “shall not otherwise engage in the practice of criminal law.” DR 5-105(D) of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

If a lawyer is required to decline employment or to withdraw from employment under DR 5-105, no partner or associate of his or his firm may accept or continue such employment.

In view of the above Disciplinary Rule and the general principles applicable to partnerships and professional associations, the Committee is of the opinion that no members of the inquirer's firm may handle criminal cases if the inquirer accepts employment as an assistant public defender.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]