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

9-Government Lawyer Conflicts

A board which hears grievance appeals and adopts a city's personnel rules is represented by an independent counsel in any grievance hearing (with the city attorney representing the city), although the city attorney represents the board in adopting personnel rules. Assuming that the board and the city are separate clients (which is a legal issue), their interests are not adverse in the grievance proceedings -- because the board is "merely the dispute resolution system" and "does not have an interest in the various grievances" between grievants and the city. On the other hand, the city attorney may not represent the city in challenging a personnel rule adopted by the board, because the city attorney represented the board in adopting personnel rules. It is "not obvious" that the City Attorney could adequately represent both clients in this situation, so consent would not cure the conflict. No conflict would arise if the city attorney represented the city in challenging the board's "application of rules to the facts of the particular grievance, or challenge[d] the Board's decision in a particular case," because "those matters are not substantially related to any advice given by the City Attorney to the Board." [Rule 1.7(a)(1) follows a subjective "reasonably believes" standard rather than the old Code's objective "obvious" standard.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn