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

27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)

30-Disclosing Confidences Under Court Order

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

36-Withdrawal from Representations

[WITHDRAWN] A client suing a former employer receives (from a former colleague at the company) a letter to the employer from its lawyer. The client gives a copy of the letter to the client's lawyer, who does not read it but instead seals it in an envelope. The client asks the lawyer to destroy the letter, because the client is worried that the former colleague will be punished if the letter is disclosed. The Bar holds that: the existence and contents of the letter constitute a client "secret"; the lawyer is not required to read the letter, because the "zealous representation" duty is outweighed by the client's instructions to destroy the letter; the lawyer is under no obligation to disclose the letter's existence because there is no "ongoing client crime or fraud involved;" the lawyer need not provide a copy of the letter to the employer (unless there is an outstanding discovery request, in which case the lawyer should object to the request but comply with any order to produce the letter); the lawyer need not withdraw from representing the client. [Although it may not change the result of this LEO, the word "zealous" does not appear in the Rule themselves.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn