FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
July 30, 1962
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An arrangement whereby the general manager of a corporation agreed that his salary from the
corporation would be reduced by fees earned in his law practice in excess of a certain sum in a
stated period is subject to criticism.
Vice-Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar states that he is presently employed on a
full-time basis by a publishing corporation as general manager of that corporation
but contemplates entering the practice of law, at which time he will continue as
general manager of the corporation. A corporate resolution has been passed
regarding financial arrangements with his present employer whereby a portion of
his salary from the corporation will be reduced by any amount earned as
attorney’s fees in excess of a certain sum during any six-month period.
It is the opinion of the Committee that the procedure contemplated will expose him to
possible criticisms for violation of the Professional Canons. Attention is particularly directed to
Canon 34, which prohibits the division of fees for legal services rendered except with another
lawyer on a basis of service or responsibilities. The facts available are insufficient for the
Committee to determine whether the arrangement would in fact be improper. It is open, however,
to the interpretation that an arrangement in effect would amount to a division of his attorneys
fees with a lay agency.
Attention is also directed to Canon 27 and to the opinions of the Committee set forth in
the publication of The Florida Bar entitled “Your Privileges and Responsibilities As A Lawyer in
Florida.” These materials point up the fact that while an attorney may be engaged in business,
such business must be kept separate and distinct from the practice of law and should not be used
to “feed” the attorney’s practice.