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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5-Lawyers Changing Jobs

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

A lawyer from a medical malpractice defense law firm wishes to join a plaintiff's firm. Absent the clients' consent, both the lawyer and the new firm would be barred from representing any plaintiffs in cases in which the lawyer "was actively participating" while in the defense firm. An ethics screen would not cure the conflict -- only the clients' consent would do. The lawyer may work on matters as long as the lawyer had not worked on the matters while at the defense firm and did not acquire any secrets or confidences that could now be used to the former clients' disadvantage. The lawyer should bear in mind the inability to use such confidences and secrets in light of the countervailing duty to represent new clients at the new firm.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn