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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31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

A client's fraud on a third party is "clearly established" for purposes of the ethics rules (and thus triggers a lawyer's obligation to reveal the perpetration) only if the client has acknowledged the fraud to the lawyer. The lawyer "may not assume that any criminal charges brought against his client contrary to his client's statement present a clear indication of fraudulent activity on the part of his client." If the client states an intention to permit perjury, the lawyer should warn the client of the consequences and inform the client that the lawyer would have to reveal such criminal intention to the appropriate tribunal unless the intent was abandoned.A lawyer's duty to protect a client's confidences and secrets lasts beyond the representation and even the client's death. A "secret" may include information "which may be public or known to third parties."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn