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

14-Ownership of Files and Attorney Lien Issues

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

36-Withdrawal from Representations

40-Trust Accounts

41-Non-Virginia Lawyers

46-Confidentiality - Miscellaneous

49-Lawyers - Miscellaneous


Lawyers who face or whose clients face the consequences of large-scale disasters such as hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.: (1) must comply with their communication duties, and therefore should maintain contact information for their clients and consider providing their own contact information to those clients; (2) if they continue to represent clients in the affected area, may be able to provide services outside their normal expertise, should evaluate in advance ways to assure that they will have the necessary client files and legal resources, keep track of litigation deadlines, take steps in advance to access trust funds and deal with affected financial institutions holding client or their own funds; (3) may have to withdraw from representations if they are unable to competently represent clients; (4) if they either permanently or temporarily re-locate to other jurisdictions, must comply with the multijurisdictional rules, other statutes and regulations of those jurisdictions; (5) must notify clients of the loss of "documents with intrinsic value" (such as executed wills, etc.), as well as other client or lawyer files that the lawyer cannot reconstruct after reasonable attempts to do so (to avoid such problems, lawyers should maintain copies of important documents in an off-site location," should consider returning all original documents and documents with intrinsic value created by the lawyer as a result of the representation to clients at the end of representation" and should also consider "including in fee agreements or engagement letters the understandings between the lawyer and the client about how the lawyer will handle documents once the representation has ended"); and (6) must avoid improper solicitation or other advertising in the wake of such disasters (remembering that they may solicit pro bono representations because those are not motivated by pecuniary gain). Out-of-state lawyers affected assisting clients in such affected areas must comply with the pertinent jurisdictions' multijurisdictional rules and other regulations.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn