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

24-Representation of or Adversity to Witnesses

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

71-Representing Corporations

A law firm has occasionally represented (and is currently representing) a corporation, gaining "general knowledge of the scope and nature of the corporation's operations." The corporation's president has now been identified as an expert witness for the law firm's adversary in an unrelated matter.Although the firm has not represented the president personally, if "the law firm had any discussions with, or received any information from the president, such communications would give rise to an expectation of confidentiality unless it gave the president the disclosures and warnings required under the circumstances presented in LEO 1457" (since an expectation of confidentiality may arise even without a formal attorney-client relationship). For this reason, the law firm may continue to represent its client only if "it has gained no information from the president under any circumstances that would have indicated an expectation of confidentiality as discussed above, or if no such information thus gained can be of any use whatsoever to the current defendant so that the law firm will not need to use it, or if the president consents after full disclosure, or if the president was adequately warned that what he told the law firm would not be held in confidence because the law firm did not represent him or his interests."The Bar notes that the law firm has had occasion to acquire useful information about the company and the president's credibility, although the Bar only mentions that the firm "has gained general knowledge of the scope and operation of the corporation."The law firm must also obtain the consent of its other client to continue representing it in the unrelated case. [The Bar did not discuss the possibility of arranging for another counsel to cross-examine the expert.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn