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

54-Insurance Defense Lawyers

55-Firm Names and Letterhead

57-In-House Lawyers

Lawyers employed as staff employees of insurance companies may represent both the company and the insured in "full coverage cases" -- in which the insured's monetary exposure is within the coverage limits, and there is no dispute about coverage. The lawyers must keep in mind "the importance of undivided fidelity to the insured-client." The issue of separate attorney-client relationships with the insured and the company (or both) is a question of state law, but some states follow a "dual client" approach while others recognize that the lawyer represents only the insured. Most states allow staff counsel to represent insureds, but some states prohibit such representations as the unauthorized practice of law. Insurance companies' staff lawyers representing insureds must disclose to their insureds clients -- "at the earliest opportunity practicable" their "employment status and affiliation with the insurance company." Staff lawyers for an insurance company may use a traditional law firm name or a trade name, as long as they make the required disclosure to their insureds-clients.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn