FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
November 16, 1970
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An attorney investing funds for a client may not charge a full fee to his client and at the same
time accept a finder’s fee for placing the investments in a particular institution.
Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar has requested this Committee to
review Florida Opinion 60-26 in the following context. Banks are advertising and
soliciting lawyers who are members of The Florida Bar to have the lawyers
induce their clients to deposit money with said banks with the banks paying the
lawyers a finder’s fee therefore. Certain specific promotional material has been
furnished to the Committee for its review.
In Opinion 60-26, it was determined that subject to full disclosure and written consent of
the client, a lawyer could ethically recommend to a client to invest in a certain way, even though
the lawyer received what amounts to a finder’s or referral fee. The conclusion there reached is
amplified in the opinion found in Professional Ethics, The Florida Bar, 1959-1967, at pages
The inquiry is now controlled by CPR DR 5-107(A). Based on the language of the cited
provision, it would appear that the answer today should be the same as that which obtained under
the old Canons and Opinion 60-26. However, a majority of the present Committee determines to
partially amend the prior opinion, there being one dissent.
Full disclosure under DR 5-107(A) should not and does not authorize an attorney to
charge a full fee to his client and at the same time accept and retain a finder’s fee for placing
investments for the client in a particular institution. Should the attorney pass on the benefit of the
finder’s fee to the client or credit the same against fees ordinarily charged for the attorney’s
services, then there would be no question of the propriety of the practice. Thus, the Committee
advises the Board of Governors that Opinion 60-26 is reaffirmed with the additional requirement
that the client shall receive the benefit of the finder’s or referral fee paid the attorney by the
institution seeking the investment. It is intended that this opinion shall apply to all investments of