The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 66-39

July 18, 1966
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An attorney could properly honor a client’s request to represent him in a controversy stemming
from a previous compromise wherein the client was represented by other counsel.


Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:
An intricate factual situation involving the proposed action of a member of
The Florida Bar is here presented. The clients in question utilized other counsel to
compromise controversies arising in the preliminary stages of a sizeable
decedent’s estate. The settlement resulted in such counsel assuming the role of
personal representative in completing the estate. Subsequent developments in the
matters previously settled result in a possible conflict of interest between the
clients and the attorney in his capacity as administrator, and raise questions as to
efficacy and desirability of the previous settlement. The clients now request the
inquirer to represent them in connection with the new controversy, including any
dispute with former counsel. The latter, by virtue of the former employment
agreement under which he has been fully compensated, offers to afford the clients
other counsel at his expense. The inquirer is in doubt as the propriety of assuming
this representation, particularly if the proposal of former counsel is in effect an
objection to him so acting.
Canon 7 clearly preserves the right of a client to secure additional or substitute counsel,
and supports the right of a lawyer to assume such representation. In the event of an objection by
existing counsel to the proffer of additional counsel, an attorney may accept the retainer upon the
client’s relief of the existing counsel. We see no reason why the inquirer may not properly honor
the clients’ desire for independent counsel.
We express no opinion as to the actions or proposed actions of any counsel other than the