I don’t want to get into a lot of detail about The Florida Bar v. Doherty, a recent attorney disciplinary proceeding from Florida, but just want to raise it as a cautionary tale for those practitioners who wear multiple hats for the same client. You know – those practitioners who act as both estate planner and investment advisor for the same client; those practitioners who act as estate planner for a client and then get named as trustee, executor, etc. in that client’s estate planning documents; those practitioners who act as estate planner and annuity salesperson for the same client; and those practitioners who act as attorney and business partner for the same client.
It’s not that you cannot necessarily wear those multiple hats. It’s just that, if you do, you better strictly follow the applicable rules – including any applicable rules of professional conduct. These rules are, among other things, generally going to require you to advise your client in writing of the multiple, conflicting positions in which you find yourself when you assume multiple, concurrent professional roles on behalf of a client.
So, if you’re going to wear those multiple hats with one client, brush up on the rules first.