The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 59-25

February 15, 1960
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
It is improper for a lawyer who is special counsel for the personnel board of a city to appear
before the city council or file suit against the city on behalf of private clients even in matters
unrelated to personnel problems, because of inherent conflicts of interest, which cannot be
effectively eliminated by disclosure, and the possibility of public misunderstanding of such

6, 29

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:
A request is made for an opinion by the Committee as to whether it would be
ethical for a lawyer, as special counsel for the Personnel Board of a Florida city in
a large metropolitan area, to appear before the City Council of that city on behalf
of private clients relative to matters entirely unrelated to personnel problems, and
as to whether such employment would preclude him from filing suit against the
City on behalf of private clients on matters entirely unrelated to personnel
This Committee had a similar matter before it and rendered its Opinion 59-2, in
connection with a County Attorney representing property owners in condemnation suits and in
automobile accident cases.
It is our opinion that it would not be proper to represent the Personnel Board of the City
and at the same time to appear before the City Council on behalf of private clients and to file
suits against the City even though unrelated to personnel problems, since the lawyer is directly
employed by the City Council to represent and advise the Council, and the disclosure of possible
conflicting interests to all parties probably is not sufficient to justify representation when
interests conflict and public misunderstanding regarding such representation could easily arise.