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

2-Adversity to Former Clients

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

68-Lawyers Acting as Mediators

A lawyer who acted as a mediator between an investor and a brokerage firm and who acquired confidential information about the brokerage firm's "internal rules and operations" may not later represent another investor in a lawsuit against the firm (even though the second investor's claims involve different securities and a different registered representative, the information the lawyer learned as a mediator was relevant to the second investor's case).The Code applies to the lawyer acting as a mediator. Although "mere familiarity with a corporation's workings or personality of its representatives is not enough" to disqualify the lawyer from being adverse to a former client, here "the mediator learned information about the internal rules and operations of the Firm having a bearing on the quality of the Firm's supervision of its agents." This means that the matters are "substantially related," and the lawyer/ mediator may not use such confidential information against a former client just as a lawyer could not use it against a former client the lawyer represented as an advocate. Although the brokerage firm may consent to the adversity, "the committee cautions attorneys from relying heavily on client consent because there are circumstances in which the consent may be withdrawn at a later time." [Rule 2.11 governs a lawyer's role as mediator.] [In LEO 1759, the Bar reaffirmed that a lawyer/mediator may not later represent a party to the mediation, even with client consent.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn