The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 64-29

June 20, 1964
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
It is improper for an attorney to accept employment from a real estate broker operating a
so-called “tax advisory company,” whereby the broker solicits business and then employs the
attorney to present the demand for ad valorem tax reductions to an administrative board.

27, 34, 35, 47 [See current 4-7.18(a), 4-5.4(a), 4-5.5(a)]

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar requests an opinion regarding the propriety of an attorney
accepting employment from a real estate broker who operates a so-called “tax advisory
company.” Under the facts related, a certified public accountant, and possibly others, solicits
business for the broker, who contracts with members of the public to obtain ad valorem tax
reductions in Dade County. The broker files a formal complaint with the Board of Equalization
and then employs an attorney to present the matter to the Board at the expense of the real estate
broker. The taxpayer does not participate in the selection of the attorney.
It is the unanimous opinion of this Committee that it is highly improper for an attorney to
participate in the described arrangement. The arrangement, in the opinion of this Committee,
constitutes a clear violation of Canon 35 [See current Rule 4-5.5(a)], which prohibits the practice
of law through an intermediary. In addition, it seems quite likely that the attorney is aiding in the
unauthorized practice of law contrary to the provisions of Canon 47 [See current Rule 4-5.5(a)]
and, very likely, he is also sharing legal fees with a layman contrary to Canon 34 [See current
Rule 4-5.4(a)] and obtaining legal practice through solicitation, contrary to Canon 27 [See
current Rule 4-7.18(a)].