The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 60-34

March 28, 1961
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
It is improper for an attorney to advise his client’s creditors that he holds funds due to the client
so that such creditor may proceed against them. It is the lawyer’s duty to represent his client with
undivided fidelity and to preserve his confidences.

6, 11, 37
ABA 163

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar submits the following inquiry:
He states that he has funds in his possession belonging to a client who resides
in California, and that he has knowledge of the claims of certain attorneys for
services against these funds. He does not state the nature of these claims nor how
they arose. He is in doubt as to his duty to forward these funds to his client
without giving these attorneys an opportunity to garnish him or that he might
interplead the parties.
The Canons of Professional Ethics read in part:
Canon 6: “The obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity and
not to divulge his secrets or confidences. . . .”
Canon 11: “Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust
property coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and
accounted for promptly. . . .”
Canon 37: “It is the duty of a lawyer to preserve his client’s confidences.”
ABA Opinion 163 holds: It is improper for an attorney to advise any of his
client’s creditors that he has made a collection and that he will hold the money in
order that the creditor may attach it.
This was a personal injury case where the lawyer advised his client’s doctor and the
hospital that the case had been settled and that he held the collection and would continue to do so
for a short time so that the doctor and the hospital could attach it if the client refused to pay their
reasonable charges.
Drinker, Legal Ethics, on “The Lawyer’s Obligation to Other Lawyers,” at pages
196-198, says: “His duty is to his client, and he may not give away the client’s rights or property.
Nor may a lawyer, in courtesy to one to whom he has forwarded a claim, advise him of the
location of the client’s property in order that his correspondent may collect his fee. . . . A lawyer

is not obliged to protect the claim of another lawyer to a fee, where he refers a case to the other,
or even where he supersedes him.”