The Florida Bar

July 2, 1962

It would be improper for the partner of a municipal officer having power to appoint municipal judges to practice before such judges.

Canon: 6

Vice-Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar submits an inquiry wherein he states that he is a member of the City Commission of a Florida city, and as such his duties as city commissioner involve appointment of department heads including the city judge. He states that, under the circumstances, he does not handle cases before the municipal court of the city. He inquires, however, whether it would be proper for his partner to represent clients before that court while he is serving on the city commission.

This Committee has on a number of occasions held that it was improper for a member of a governmental body empowered to appoint judges to practice before the Court to which appointments were made. Although we are aware of no decisions directly in point, it is likewise our opinion that it would be improper for a partner of such official to practice before the appointed court. In Drinker, Legal Ethics, beginning at page 103, there is a discussion of the duty of attorneys not to represent conflicting interests. This duty arises pursuant to the provisions of Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics. Drinker's observations clearly point to a principle that a “a lawyer may not do what his partner may not do.” We feel that the spirit of the Canons requires application of this principle to the situation presented. This would appear to be particularly so inasmuch as the partner is apparently a relative.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]