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

1-Adversity to Current Clients

16-Lawyer's Personal Interests

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

As long as the client consents, a law firm may continue to represent it even though the client is suing the firm for unrelated legal malpractice. "[A]n informed consent is a product of an adequate explanation of the nature, extent and implications of a conflict of interest, including the possible effect on the exercise of the lawyer's independent professional judgment on behalf of the client." The law firm must advise the client that one of its lawyers will cross-examine the client in the malpractice action. The firm may not reveal to its malpractice counsel any confidences or secrets it obtained from its client through a representation of the client in unrelated matters.Although "[c]onsent may be oral or written," written consent would be best here. "Significantly, client consent is not contractually binding; it may be withdrawn at any time." ([The Bar softened an equally broad statement in revised LEO 1652.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn