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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22-Interviews with Prospective Clients

34-Limiting Liability to Clients

Although a "lawyer's fiduciary duties extend to preliminary consultation by a prospective client with a view to engagement," it is not per se improper for a client engagement agreement to provide for binding arbitration of legal malpractice claims as long as there is adequate disclosure and consent. Like fee agreements, such initially-acceptable engagement agreement provisions might become improper given the "occurrence of unusual and extraordinary facts and circumstances not contemplated at the outset of the representation." The Bar declines to require any specific disclosures or insist that the client actually consult another lawyer before entering into such an agreement (in LEO 638, the Bar seemed to require that the client must be advised to seek independent counsel regarding an arbitration provision). Appropriate disclosures might include "waiver of trial by jury or by the court, discovery, evidentiary rules, arbitrator selection, scope of award, expense, appellate rights, finality of award, enforcement of award."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn