The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 73-17

June 14, 1974
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A lawyer is not prohibited, per se, from owning stock in a corporation formed to sell legal fee
insurance policies.
Note: See F.S. Ch. 642, enacted in 1979.

DR 2-101, 2-102
F.S. Ch. 641

Vice Chairman Daniels stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar wishes to form a Florida corporation to sell
insurance policies which would pay the legal fees of the insureds incurred while
the policies were in effect. The inquirer recognizes that Florida Statutes Ch. 641
would have to be amended so as to permit the formation of a corporation for such
purposes. We are asked to answer the following question:
Will a corporation created and designed to sell insurance coverage on
lawyers’ fees be in violation of Canon 2 and DR 2-101 and 2-102 when such a
corporation is owned partially or entirely by lawyers admitted to The Florida Bar;
but when the solicitation process done by the corporation is removed entirely
from the attorneys themselves; that is, when the attorneys connected with the
company are (1) not named in the advertising and (2) do not indicate the
company’s name on their letterhead or other printed material used to
communicate with the public?
Assuming arguendo that Florida Statutes Ch. 641 were amended to permit corporations to
sell legal fee insurance policies, such amendments might or might not contain restrictions on
lawyers owning stock in such corporations. Assuming no statutory prohibition against such
ownership by lawyers, a majority of the Committee sees nothing per se unethical in the mere
ownership of such stock. We have not been asked whether it would be possible for such a
corporation to sell such insurance policies without ethical impropriety nor have we been asked
whether lawyers could, with propriety, do anything other than own stock in such a corporation.
The Committee sees many areas of ethical concern that such a program might violate, depending
on the form and manner of its operation. Answers to these issues can only be given when and if
they arise in the future.
A minority of the Committee is of the opinion that it would be impossible, under any
circumstances, for the bounds of propriety to be observed in the sale of such insurance policies.
Hence, the minority feels that even the mere ownership of stock would be improper.