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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9-Government Lawyer Conflicts

16-Lawyer's Personal Interests

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

51-Government Attorneys

A Commonwealth's Attorney has represented UMW strikers and has expressed public sympathy with them. The Commonwealth's Attorney also personally has an interest in a non-union coal mine. The Commonwealth's Attorney may not prosecute striking miners because of this personal interest in the matter. Also, the lawyer's earlier representation of the miners is substantially related to the possible prosecution. Consent would be impossible, because there is no identifiable public client from whom consent could be obtained. The Bar stated that "a lawyer and, in particular, one who is engaged in representing the public rather than individual clients, must be keenly aware of the admonitions within the Code of Professional Responsibility to avoid even the appearance of an impropriety; he must not place himself in a situation where his loyalties are or may be perceived as being divided."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn