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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21-Reporting Another Lawyer's Unethical Conduct

35-Threatening Criminal and Disciplinary Action

[WITHDRAWN] A former client sued a lawyer for malpractice and also filed a Bar complaint. The former client later non-suited the malpractice action but threatened to bring it again. The former client's lawyer sought a settlement from the defendant lawyer in return for withdrawing the Bar complaint. The defendant lawyer believes that this violates DR 7-104 and must be reported to the Bar, but does not want to violate DR 7-104 (by appearing to use the disciplinary charge to deter the refiling of the malpractice action).The Bar indicated that a lawyer must report another lawyer's misconduct "without any unnecessary delay." Determining if the reporting lawyer's motives are improper "requires a factual case-by-case determination." If the defendant lawyer reports the misconduct while the malpractice claim is pending, the report is "rendered suspect." However, if the reporting lawyer would not be reporting the misconduct "solely to use or threaten the Bar complaint for leverage to settle or conclude the malpractice claim," the lawyer is not required to wait until the malpractice claim is resolved before reporting the violation.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn