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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12-Withdrawing Lawyers (Including Non-Compete Issues)

Pointing to ABA LEO 414 and Virginia LEO 1332, the Bar explains that a lawyer withdrawing from a firm: should limit any notice of his departure to "clients whose active matters the lawyer has direct professional responsibility [for] at the time of the notice"; should not "urge the client to sever his relationship with the firm," but should instead indicate his willingness to continue representing the client; should make it clear that "the client has the ultimate right to decide who will complete or continue the matter"; and "must not disparage the lawyer's former firm." A joint letter is best (although not required), but if the law firm is uncooperative the withdrawing lawyer may send a unilateral letter. The law firm does not have the right to review any letters the withdrawing lawyer sends, and does not have the right to know to whom the withdrawing lawyer has sent the letters. The withdrawing lawyer's letter here passed ethical muster, even though it indicated that the lawyer had checked with the Virginia State Bar Ethics Counsel, and placed last in the letter the option of the client staying with the firm.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn