The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 78-15

Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
It is not improper for a supervising attorney in a legal service clinic to influence the professional
judgment of another attorney in the clinic in determining whether to withdraw from a case.

DR 2-103(D)(1), DR 5-107(B)
Mr. Corrigan stated the opinion of the committee:
An attorney employed by a legal services clinic inquires about the propriety
of his supervisor attorney influencing his professional judgment in determining
whether or not to withdraw from a case.

DR 5-107(B), which states that “A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends,
employs, or pays him to render legal services for another to direct or regulate his professional
judgment in rendering such legal services,” refers to a nonlawyer and not a senior member of a
law firm in the direction of a junior member, nor to a supervising attorney in a legal services
clinic directing other attorneys employed by the clinic.
While DR 2-103(D)(1) provides that a lawyer’s independent professional judgment must
be exercised on behalf of his client without interference or control, such professional judgment is
necessarily tempered by the fact that the client is a client of the firm or of the legal clinic and not
of the individual lawyer. If a situation arises in which, in the individual lawyer’s judgment, he
cannot, in good professional conscience, follow the instructions of the supervising attorney, then
his option is one of terminating his services with the clinic. Accordingly, the Committee answers
the question in the affirmative.