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 NumTopicsSummary

5-Lawyers Changing Jobs

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

38-Fee Splitting

A lawyer who worked on plaintiffs' litigation moved to a defense firm. The lawyer may continue to share in the former firm's income from cases completed before the lawyer joined the new firm. The new firm would not be disqualified as long as the clients consented to the lawyer's receipt of those fees. The lawyer may not share in income earned by the former firm on cases completed after the lawyer left the firm because the lawyer could not assume responsibility for the client's case (a prerequisite to the fee-splitting the lawyer seeks). [Although the summary seems confused in discussing the lawyer's earlier clients and which consents would be required, it explicitly states that a firm's unilateral imposition of an ethics screen does not cure a conflict -- only informed consent can cure a conflict.] [Rule 1.5(e) does not require that a lawyer sharing in fees also share responsibility, thus allowing "referral fees" if the client consents after full disclosure.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn