The Florida Bar
A lawyer is not prohibited, per se, from owning stock in a corporation formed to sell legal fee insurance policies.
June 14, 1974
June 14, 1974
Note: See F.S. Ch. 642, enacted in 1979.
CPR: DR 2-101, 2-102
Statute: F.S. Ch. 641
Vice Chairman Daniels stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar wishes to form a Florida corporation to sell insurance policies which would pay the legal fees of the insureds incurred while the policies were in effect. The inquirer recognizes that Florida Statutes Ch. 641 would have to be amended so as to permit the formation of a corporation for such purposes. We are asked to answer the following question:
Will a corporation created and designed to sell insurance coverage on lawyers' fees be in violation of Canon 2 and DR 2-101 and 2-102 when such a corporation is owned partially or entirely by lawyers admitted to The Florida Bar; but when the solicitation process done by the corporation is removed entirely from the attorneys themselves; that is, when the attorneys connected with the company are (1) not named in the advertising and (2) do not indicate the company's name on their letterhead or other printed material used to communicate with the public?
Assuming arguendo that Florida Statutes Ch. 641 were amended to permit corporations to sell legal fee insurance policies, such amendments might or might not contain restrictions on lawyers owning stock in such corporations. Assuming no statutory prohibition against such ownership by lawyers, a majority of the Committee sees nothing per se unethical in the mere ownership of such stock. We have not been asked whether it would be possible for such a corporation to sell such insurance policies without ethical impropriety nor have we been asked whether lawyers could, with propriety, do anything other than own stock in such a corporation. The Committee sees many areas of ethical concern that such a program might violate, depending on the form and manner of its operation. Answers to these issues can only be given when and if they arise in the future.
A minority of the Committee is of the opinion that it would be impossible, under any circumstances, for the bounds of propriety to be observed in the sale of such insurance policies. Hence, the minority feels that even the mere ownership of stock would be improper.