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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30-Disclosing Confidences Under Court Order

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

46-Confidentiality - Miscellaneous

Lawyers receiving a subpoena or other compulsory process calling for the disclosure of client confidential or privileged communications or documents: (1) must notify or make reasonable steps to notify current or former clients of the subpoena; (2) must consult with available clients about whether to challenge the demand or appeal (but may withdraw if such an appeal is beyond the retention scope or is a new matter the lawyer does not wish to handle); (3) must consult with available clients about fees if the original retainer letter does not require clients' payments in that situation -- although lawyers "may be required to challenge the initial demand" even without a fee agreement; (4) "should" resist disclosure on behalf of unavailable clients, but may comply with a court order overruling any objections (in that situation, lawyers may seek to withdraw or file a later quantum meruit action for fees); (5) need not appeal on behalf of unavailable clients a court order requiring disclosure; (6) must in all circumstances only disclose client confidential or privileged information or communications "to the extent reasonably necessary" (which may require lawyers to seek protective orders or other arrangements.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn