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

22-Interviews with Prospective Clients

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

44-Conflicts - Miscellaneous

A bar association wants to set up a question referral network under which lawyers from other firms will answer questions without obtaining specific confidential or secret information. The Bar holds that it is likely that the lawyer answering a question will acquire confidential or secret information, and that therefore the inquiring lawyer should obtain the client's consent before asking the questions.The Bar explains that "the anonymous hypothetical approach to consultation encounters difficulties as more details are revealed during the consultation, and seemingly innocuous information may be harmful to the client if revealed to others." Although no attorney-client relationship arises between the inquiring lawyer's client and the answering lawyer, a "special relationship" arises. The consultation "would give rise to a reasonable expectation of confidentiality," so the answering lawyer should arrange for a disclaimer making it clear that the lawyer need not maintain the information's secrecy. Although no attorney-client relationship arises, the answering lawyer may not be adverse to the inquiring lawyer's client without the client's consent. To avoid possible disqualification, the answering lawyer should perform a conflicts check before answering any questions. The inquiring lawyer may not reveal the client's identity to the answering lawyer without the client's consent. [Rule 1.6 Comment [7a] discusses such "mentor" communications.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn