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

32-Lawyers Acting in Other Roles (Miscellaneous)

54-Insurance Defense Lawyers

A lawyer has worked as an associate in a medical malpractice defense firm and as a non-lawyer claims consultant for an insurance company (assigning malpractice cases to defense lawyers). The lawyer has now joined a plaintiffs firm. The lawyer may not pursue malpractice cases against any doctor on behalf of whom the lawyer had been involved as a lawyer in previous medical malpractice cases.The matters would be "substantially related" because "both representations involve the same doctor whose professional competence is at issue in both suits," and "possession of confidential information may be imputed" to the lawyer because of "his having earlier participated in the defense of the doctor in a previous malpractice action." If the lawyer was "involved" in the defense of any co-defendants in the earlier malpractice actions, the lawyer would likewise be precluded from representing plaintiffs adverse to them. [The Bar did not explain what would entail such "involvement."]The lawyer may represent plaintiffs adverse to a doctor represented by the lawyer's former firm if the lawyer "did not work on the doctor's defense and did not receive any confidential information from the doctor." Because the lawyer did not establish an attorney-client relationship with the insurance company's insureds while administering claims, the lawyer may be adverse to doctors "whose claim was managed and administered" by the lawyer while employed by the insurance company (the Bar indicated that "the doctors' claim information would not constitute a confidence or secret" under the Code) [Because lawyers are bound by the Code even if they are not acting as lawyers, and because such claims information might be highly sensitive, this seems like too narrow a view.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn