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

16-Lawyer's Personal Interests

27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)


Defendants in an employment discrimination case may arrange a settlement under which the plaintiff's lawyers will represent the defendants (thereby implicitly prohibiting the lawyers from representing other plaintiffs against the same defendants without their consent). Although such an arrangement could be seen as "merely a ruse" to circumvent the Code's ban on settlements that "broadly restrict" a lawyer's right to practice law, the lawyers here "have not represented any other clients adverse to defendants and do not have a present expectation of such representation in the future," and could "provide valuable advice to defendants" on employment discrimination law. Furthermore, the facts did not suggest that the defendants were trying to "buy off" plaintiff's counsel or "conflict out" plaintiff's counsel by hiring him or her.Determining if such a settlement agreement "broadly restricts" the lawyers' practice requires a factual determination, but a settlement agreement like this entered into by a large firm with many practice areas might survive, while the Code might prohibit a similar arrangement entered into by a small "boutique" firm giving up a substantial portion of its practice. Here, the settlement agreement did not completely restrict the lawyers' right to practice, since they could take cases against the defendants with consent. [Rule 5.6(b) would permit such a restriction if "approved by a tribunal or governmental entity."]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn