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

18-Consent and Prospective Waivers

32-Lawyers Acting in Other Roles (Miscellaneous)


43-Conflicts of Interest - Miscellaneous

49-Lawyers - Miscellaneous

67-Lawyers Acting as Guardians Ad Litem"

Minor children pursue lawsuits through a "next friend" (typically the child's parent or guardian) acting in the child's name. A lawyer representing such a "next friend" takes direction from the "next friend," although the lawyer represents the child rather than the "next friend." A parent or other such "next friend" should "frequently reassess potential conflict throughout the representation" - because (among other things) the lawyer may desire to protect the parent's lien from medical expenses incurred on the child's behalf, which will be paid out of the child's recovery against the tortfeasor. A conflict might arise if the parent wishes to settle a child's claim for an amount that will satisfy such a lien, but might not maximize the child's recovery. If the "next friend" is the child's parent or guardian, the lawyer "may presume" that the "next friend" is acting in the child's best interest, unless the lawyer "has reason to believe" otherwise. If the "next friend" is not the child's parent or guardian, such a presumption does not exist. If a conflict arises, the lawyer cannot obtain the necessary consent from the child or from the conflicted "next friend." In that situation, the lawyer may seek a guardian ad !item's appointment or judicial approval of an infant settlement - and the lawyer "must advise the parent to seek independent counsel." In other situations involving a conflict, the lawyer may petition the court to appoint a substitute "next friend."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn