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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20-Government Official Conflicts

A lawyer who voted as a member of a town's governing body in favor of adopting a statute must consider various factors if asked to challenge the statute's constitutionality. The lawyer may not forgo a constitutional challenge if doing so would fall short of diligent representation of the new client challenging the law. Because the lawyer participated "personally and substantially" in adopting the statute, the lawyer may not challenge its constitutionality unless the new client and the government consent after full disclosure. The lawyer must also consider his own personal interest, and determine whether he will be able to provide a diligent representation of the new client (if that representation will be "materially limited" by the lawyer's public service and role on the town's governing body, he may proceed only with the new client's consent after full disclosure). For instance, any public statements the lawyer might have made supporting the statute "could undermine the lawyer's credibility and weaken his effectiveness as an advocate" in challenging its constitutionality.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn