The prudent practitioner will note a number of changes, some of them quite substantial, to Florida's professional responsibility landscape in 1996. Courts and ethics committees rendered decisions affecting obligations that Florida lawyers assume as they interact with prospective clients, clients, judges, other lawyers, nonlawyer assistants, third parties, and disciplinary authorities. This article examines significant cases and ethics opinions in the context of the different roles which lawyers assume during the course of their relationships with these individuals and entities. Part II explores the traditional role of the lawyer as a zealous advocate for the client. This section reviews developments of the past year as they relate to: 1) formation of a lawyer-client relationship; 2) conflicts of interest and other grounds for a lawyer's disqualification from a matter; 3) restrictions on a lawyer's ability to communicate with represented parties; 4) trial conduct, including the permissible scope of argument; and 5) proper termination of a lawyer-client relationship. Part III addresses the lawyer's role as fiduciary, especially with regard to safekeeping of client property. Part IV looks at decisions affecting the lawyer's role as an officer of the court. Part V explores various aspects of a lawyer's role as a businessperson. Included in this section are developments concerning attorney's fees, organization and operation of law firms, a lawyer's relationship with nonlawyers who assist the lawyer in the practice of law, and law firm marketing activities. Finally, Part VI considers the lawyer's role as a member of The Florida Bar, and surveys disciplinary actions taken against Florida lawyers for widely varying conduct.
21 Nova L. Rev. 231 (Fall 1996)