June 9, 1983
Opinion No. 83/7
Judge lecturing for money
This is in response to your recent inquiry. You have written a book on the ----- Landlord-Tenant Law. You have been asked to deliver lectures to attorneys and on-attorneys on landlord-tenant law. You will be paid for these lectures. You want to know whether you may give these lectures for compensation and whether the publishers of the book may offer it for sale at the lectures. Of course, you will not participate in selling the book.
Of the six members who responded to your inquiry, all were unanimous that you may give the lectures for compensation and the book may be offered for sale at the lectures. This answer presumes, of course, these activities will not detract from your judicial duties. The answer also presumes you will not give legal advice and thus violate the Canon against practicing law. We have ruled many times that a judge may teach, write, and lecture on the law, and that he may do so for profit.
There is really no difference than if you were employed to teach a class at a law school. The very nature of law school is to apply known principles to hypothetical factual situations. The known principles are derived from previously decided cases. The fact that a law student obtains information useful to him in a dispute with his landlord does not transform teaching into the practice of law. As to the second question, anyone who has ever attended a Bar convention has seen judges lecturing to the Florida Bar Association while law book publishers advertised and sold books in the same building. The fact that a lecturer happened to have written on of the books has no ethical impact.
James T. Carlisle
Chairman, Committee on Standards
of Conduct Governing Judges