The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 71-59

January 25, 1972
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
It is permissible for a lawyer-legislator’s firm to share a suite of offices with another law firm,
one member of which performs lobbying services, provided there is a physical and functional
division of the separate law practices.

67-5, 70-14

Chairman Clarkson stated the opinion of the committee:
A lawyer-legislator submits the following question for our consideration:
Until recently he had been a member of a firm in a metropolitan area.
Intending to establish a new practice in partnership with a lawyer member of his
family, he sought new office space. Coincidentally, he learned of the availability
of part of a suite of offices occupied by a law firm, one member of which
performs lobbying services for a client before the Florida legislature. Being
mindful of problems discussed in Florida Opinion 67-5 [since withdrawn], the
legislator asks whether we find any impropriety in his new firm’s occupancy of
space within a suite shared by the lawyer-lobbyist under the circumstances
detailed hereafter. He advises of the following arrangements:
1. Each firm maintains complete and separate operations from the other-each having their own books and bookkeeper; each buying its own supplies,
books, postage and all other office expense items; each maintaining its own bank
accounts (trust and operating) and in every respect being completely separate.
2. We have a common reception room and receptionist or telephone operator
in that space. We each pay one-half of the receptionist’s salary.
3. A & B had four telephone lines coming into the office--all of which
operated in sequence off of (telephone number). Temporarily C & D are listed
under the same number and we pay for two of these lines--or one-half of the
telephone bill for the equipment and basic service. Naturally, each one maintains
its own record of toll charges and pays them accordingly. We have ordered
separate phone numbers for C & D which will be installed soon. The switchboard
operator answers the phone “law offices” and then refers the caller appropriately.
4. Each of the two law firms pays one-half of the total rent for the space

Assuming the space-sharing arrangement to be a temporary accommodation, and in view
of the measures taken to establish a physical and functional division of the separate practices, see
Florida Opinion 70-14, the Committee finds no impropriety in the conduct as described.