These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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LEO NumTopicsSummaryDate

38-Fee Splitting

40-Trust Accounts

ABA LEO 475 (12/7/16) (Because another lawyer who has entered into a fee-split arrangement with a lawyer is a "third person" under ABA Model Rule 1.15's trust account rules, the lawyer receiving a fee that will be split with the other lawyer must: notify the other lawyer of the fee's receipt; hold the money in a trust account until it is appropriate to disburse it; promptly "deliver" any earned fee to the other lawyer; provide a full accounting if the other lawyer asks for one; keep any disputed funds in the trust account until any dispute is resolved.)12/7/2016

20-Government Official Conflicts

32-Lawyers Acting in Other Roles (Miscellaneous)

50-Lawyer-Owned Businesses

Lawyers in a law firm or in a consulting firm that the law firm owns "may not represent clients or otherwise lobby before the General Assembly" or any other public body on which lawyer's colleague sits – even if that colleague recuses herself. This prohibition applies to all lawyers in the law firm and the consulting firm, and also extends to non-lawyers in the consulting firm, "regardless of whether the lawyers have any managerial or supervisory authority over the non-lawyer employees."9/30/2016

21-Reporting Another Lawyer's Unethical Conduct

36-Withdrawal from Representations

45-Law Firms - Miscellaneous

Lawyers must report an impaired colleague if the colleague engages in sufficiently serious misconduct (under Rule 8.3), but also must "take precautionary measures before" a colleague's impairment reaches that level; such lawyers: (1) must "take reasonable steps to prevent the impaired from violating the Rules" (including considering whether the lawyer must withdraw from a representation under Rule 1.16); (2) may be able to "work around or accommodate" the impairment by reducing the impaired colleague's workload, arranging for a supervisor until the impairment dissipates, restrict the impaired colleague's scope of practice, etc.; (3) should suggest that the impaired colleague seek appropriate help. If the impaired colleague has committed sufficiently egregious misconduct that requires reporting under Rule 8.3, arranging for the impaired lawyer to participate with Lawyers Helping Lawyers does not eliminate the reporting obligation. [Approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia 12/15/16]12/15/2016

8-Bills and Fees

30-Disclosing Confidences Under Court Order

46-Confidentiality - Miscellaneous

Lawyers seeking to withdraw as counsel of record because they are not being paid must "err on the side of non-disclosure" of their grounds for seeking withdrawal. Courts "have differed widely" as to information they require before considering such a withdrawal motion, and should work with lawyers to minimize the required disclosure. Lawyers "could": (1) seek withdrawal without disclosing any client confidences; (2) if unsuccessful, respond to courts' insistence for some additional information by requesting an in camera or under seal process; and (3) publicly disclose client confidences only if the court orders such disclosure.12/19/2016

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn