Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

Rule 1.12

Former Judge Or Arbitrator

  • (a) Except as stated in paragraph (d), a lawyer shall not represent anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a judge, other adjudicative officer, arbitrator or a law clerk to such a person, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after consultation.
  • (b) A lawyer shall not negotiate for employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially as a judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator. A lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer, or arbitrator may negotiate for employment with a party or attorney involved in a matter in which the clerk is participating personally and substantially, but only after the lawyer has notified the judge, other adjudicative officer, or arbitrator.
  • (c) If a lawyer is disqualified by paragraph (a), no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in the matter unless:
    • (1) the disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
    • (2) written notice is promptly given to the parties and any appropriate tribunal to enable them to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this Rule.
  • (d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multimember arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party.


[1] This Rule generally parallels Rule 1.11. The term "personally and substantially" signifies that a judge who was a member of a multimember court, and thereafter left judicial office to practice law, is not prohibited from representing a client in a matter pending in the court, but in which the former judge did not participate. So also the fact that a former judge exercised administrative responsibility in a court does not prevent the former judge from acting as a lawyer in a matter where the judge had previously exercised remote or incidental administrative responsibility that did not affect the merits. Compare the Comment to Rule 1.11. The term "adjudicative officer" includes such officials as judges pro tempore, referees, special masters, hearing officers and other parajudicial officers, and also lawyers who serve as part-time judges. Compliance Canons A (2), B (2) and C of the Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct provide that a part-time judge, judge pro tempore or retired judge recalled to active service, may not "act as a lawyer in any proceeding in which he served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto." Although phrased differently from this Rule, those rules correspond in meaning.

[2] Like former judges, lawyers who have served as arbitrators, may be asked to represent a client in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially. This Rule forbids such representation unless all of the parties to the proceedings give their consent after consultation. Other law or codes of ethics governing these roles may impose more stringent standards of personal or imputed disqualification.

[3] Although lawyers who serve as judges and arbitrators do not have information concerning the parties that is protected under Rule 1.6, they typically owe the parties an obligation of confidentiality under law or codes of ethics governing their roles. Thus, paragraph (c) provides that conflicts of the personally disqualified lawyer will be imputed to other lawyers in a law firm unless the conditions of paragraph (c) are met.

[4] ABA Model Rule Comments not adopted.

[5] Notice, including a description of the screened lawyer’s representation and of the screening procedures employed, generally should be given as soon as practicable after the need for screening becomes apparent.

Virginia Code Comparison

Paragraph (a) is substantially similar to DR 9-101(A), which provided that a lawyer "shall not accept private employment in a matter upon the merits of which he has acted in a judicial capacity." Paragraph (a) differs, however, in that it is broader in scope and states more specifically the persons to whom it applies. There was no counterpart in the Virginia Code to paragraphs (b), (c) or (d).

With regard to arbitrators and mediators, EC 5-20 stated that "a lawyer [who] has undertaken to act as an impartial arbitrator or mediator ... should not thereafter represent in the dispute any of the parties involved." DR 9-101(A) did not permit a waiver of the disqualification applied to former judges by consent of the parties. However, DR 5-105(C) was similar in effect and could be construed to permit waiver.

Committee Commentary

The Committee adopted the ABA Model Rule essentially verbatim for former judges and arbitrators since it clearly provides more complete guidance to judicial officials than DR 9-101(A). However, the committee chose not to extend these provisions to mediators and other third-party neutrals, as those roles are distinguishable.

The amendments effective January 1, 2004, in paragraph (c)(1), added the word “timely” between “is” and “screened”; in paragraph (c)(2), added “parties and any” between “the” and “appropriate” and substituted “them” for “it”; added Comments [2], [3], [5].

Updated: October 29, 2009