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

8-Bills and Fees

16-Lawyer's Personal Interests

27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)

52-Fees in Family Law Cases

73-Family Law Lawyers

A lawyer presented two hypotheticals in which a divorce client unable to pay a lawyer's bills might assign proceeds of the sale of the client's domicile. The Bar held that such arrangements improperly give the lawyer a proprietary interest in a cause of action and are barred unless: "the final order or decree has been entered, conclusively adjudicating all issues with respect to the use, possession, division and sale of such property;" the client consents after full disclosure; the transaction is fair and reasonable ("giving consideration to the client's sophistication, ability to pay, and feasibility of other methods of fee payment"); and the "client is advised that he or she may seek independent counsel to review the transaction and is afforded an opportunity to do so, if the client so elects." [Under Rule 1.8(a), a lawyer may not enter into a "business transaction" with a client unless the client is given an opportunity to seek independent advice, and there has been full disclosure and consent in writing.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn