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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LEO NumTopicsSummary

21-Reporting Another Lawyer's Unethical Conduct

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

58-Real Estate Lawyers

A lawyer for a purchaser would knowingly assist a client in committing fraud by helping a relocation company prepare misleading property conveyance documents (which fail to show in the chain of title the relocation company's purchase of the property from its client company's employee and its later sale to a third party -- which has the effect of avoiding the payment of recording fees and taxes). Although the purchaser's lawyer involved in this activity cannot reveal her client's past wrongdoing (except as permitted under Rule 1.6), "the lawyer is required to avoid furthering the purpose, for example, by suggesting how it might be concealed." The purchaser's lawyer cannot continue with the closing, because it involves fraudulent conduct by the relocation company and its lawyer. The purchaser's lawyer must report the relocation company's lawyer's conduct (absent some mitigating circumstances), because it clearly involves an ethics violation and raises a "substantial question" as to the relocation company's lawyer's "fitness to practice law in other respects."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn