The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 68-61

February 14, 1969
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A note evidencing the balance of an agreed fee may bear lawful interest comparable to that
which would be charged the client by a lending institution.


Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar has agreed with a client to perform stipulated
services for a stated sum. The client plans to pay a portion of this stated sum, and
to pay the remainder over an agreed period. The client is willing to secure the
balance of the fee by executing a second mortgage on certain real estate securing
the note evidencing the balance of the indebtedness. We are asked whether this
note may bear interest.
The Committee is aware of no reason that such a note, under the circumstances stated,
may not bear interest provided, of course, that the rate of interest is not only lawful, but is
comparable to that rate of interest which would be charged the client by a lending institution. A
minority of the Committee suggests that a practice of charging interest would be proper so long
as the fee had in fact already been earned. The majority concludes that such a qualification is not
necessary in the particular circumstances stated, which apparently contemplate the rendition of
agreed services over a period of time with an agreement in advance as to the particular fee for the