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

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

73-Family Law Lawyers

A client hires a lawyer to obtain a divorce from his second wife. The lawyer accidentally discovers that the client's first divorce took place after the client's second marriage. The client explained that he obtained his first divorce overseas, but later filed for a divorce in the United States to appease his second wife. The lawyer then notices that his client indicated on the second marriage license that he had not been previously married. The lawyer asked the client for more information, but the client has never responded. Instead, the client fires the lawyer.The lawyer advises the judge and the opposing lawyer of these facts, but is reluctant to withdraw without advising the Commissioner in Chancery. Since the client has not acknowledged any fraudulent conduct, fraud has not been "clearly established" and the lawyer cannot advise the Commissioner in Chancery. [Because the Bar found that the "clearly established" test under Rule 1.6 was not met, it is unclear why the Bar did not disapprove of the lawyer's disclosure to the judge and the opposing lawyer.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn