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. 
 Back to main menu

  Print This Leo
LEO NumTopicsSummary

3-Multiple Representations on the Same Matter

6-Lawyers Paid by Third Party

9-Government Lawyer Conflicts

54-Insurance Defense Lawyers

A City Attorney may represent a police officer in a case in which both compensatory damages and punitive damages are sought, even though the city would not be responsible for the payment of any punitive award. The city and the officer agree on the basic underlying facts and believe that they will advance consistent defenses. Still, the City Attorney must advise the officer in writing that the officer has the right to seek independent counsel to defend the punitive damage claim, and that the lawyer "would be required to withdraw from representation if discovery reveals the appropriateness of antagonistic defenses or that the officer acted contrary to City policy or outside the scope of his employment." The Bar analogized the situation to a lawyer hired by an insurance company representing an insured -- "although paid by the insurer, the lawyer must represent the insured with undivided loyalty;" may not disclose or use confidences or secrets "which may create a policy defense for the insurance company;" and must withdraw if the insured and insurer disagree about whether to settle the case.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn