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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17-Fraud on the Tribunal

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

36-Withdrawal from Representations

A lawyer who suspects that a client has committed fraud before the representation may "accept at face value" that the client's story is "bona fide" unless the lawyer "knows or, in the exercise of due diligence upon reasonable inquiry during the attorney/client relationship, the attorney should know of information to the contrary." Thus, the lawyer must maintain the client's confidences and secrets and has no duty to "confront the client and inquire directly about the client's prior conduct." However, nothing prohibits the lawyer from "investigating the matter further." If the lawyer "believes that the fraud is obvious" even though the lawyer never receives a confession from the client, the lawyer should "move to voluntarily withdraw" at a time "that does not materially prejudice the client."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn