FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
March 26, 1980
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An intern at a public defender’s office, properly certified under Article XVIII of the Florida
Integration Rule, must obtain a client’s written consent before the intern can represent him on
Vice Chairman Ervin stated the opinion of the committee:
The inquiring attorney, a public defender, submits the following inquiry in request for a
formal opinion of the Committee.
Must an intern, properly certified and supervised under Article XVIII of the
Florida Integration Rule, obtain the appellant’s written consent before the intern
can represent him on appeal?
The inquiry is within the province of this Committee in that conduct of the inquiring
attorney other than as authorized by Article XVIII could result in violation of DR 3-101(A).
The Committee is of the opinion that in order for an intern to perform the functions
authorized by Article XVIII at either the trial or appellate level, written consent must first be
secured. It would appear proper and effective, however, for the initial consent for representation
at the trial level to include consent for continued representation at the appellate level should
appellate proceedings follow. If such a procedure has not been followed in securing consent at
the trial level, or if no intern consent was secured at the trial level, then the Committee is of the
opinion that the appellant’s written consent must be secured before the intern may represent him
at the appellate level.
There is, however, a distinction between that representation authorized only by Article
XVIII and those activities which non-admittees qualified by education and/or experience (i.e.,
law students and others serving as law clerks or research aides to an attorney) may properly
perform under the supervision of an attorney. In this respect, it is the opinion of the Committee
that while an intern may neither prepare and sign briefs nor present oral argument absent the
requisite written consent, there would be no impropriety in his performance of research and
drafting functions in aid of, and under the supervision of, the employing attorney prior to
securing of the specific written consent.