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

2-Adversity to Former Clients

5-Lawyers Changing Jobs

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

44-Conflicts - Miscellaneous

An associate who worked on an antitrust case for three months before leaving a firm had obtained information from the client's co-defendants. Although there was no attorney-client relationship between the lawyer and the co-defendants, the information the associate gained from the co-defendants "is also construed to be protected as a secret of the client/defendant since it was gained in the professional relationship, was apparently intended by the client to remain confidential, and ... the interests of the co-defendants is parallel to the interest of the client/defendant." The Bar held that the associate would have to keep this information secret.In discussing whether the associate could now work for a governmental agency in an arguably related antitrust matter, the Bar noted that the Bar "would find not substantially related any anti-trust enforcement which did not involve either the same relevant facts necessary to prove a violation, the same parties (the same co-defendants), or the same subject matter (anti-trust)."The rule prohibiting adversity to a former client on the same or substantially related matters has no time limit. Because there was no attorney-client relationship between the associate and the co-defendants, the Bar held that the imputed disqualification rules possibly applicable to the government agency are "inapposite." [The Bar did not indicate whether the former associate could be involved in substantially related anti-trust enforcement matters with the former client's consent only, or whether the associate must also obtain the co-defendants' consents.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn