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

7-Family Conflicts

11-"Of Counsel" Relationship

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

50-Lawyer-Owned Businesses

68-Lawyers Acting as Mediators

73-Family Law Lawyers

A lawyer who owns a mediation company is "of counsel" to a law firm in which his/her spouse is a partner. After mediation of a domestic dispute, one of the parties asks an associate in the law firm to file for divorce on behalf of that party. The Bar holds that lawyers/mediators may not represent either party after they handle a mediation, even with the clients' consent (overruling earlier LEOs 1684, 590, 544 and 511). Because this specific disqualification applies only to the lawyer/mediator, an associate in the firm would not be disqualified based on the mediator's disqualification. However, the lawyer/mediator's duty of confidentiality arising from the mediation also disqualifies that lawyer, and is imputed to the firm to which the lawyer/mediator is "of counsel" (although client consent can cure this conflict). If there were no connection between the lawyer/mediator and the law firm, lawyers practicing in the firm would not be disqualified from representing the party in the divorce as a result of the spousal relationship to the mediator. [Rule 1.10 now imputes the individual's disqualification to the entire law firm, as explained in Virginia LEO 1826.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn