Standing Committee on Legal Ethics

Marni E. Byrum, chair

Ethics Opinions

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics received one new opinion request in fiscal year 2014. Since July 1, 2013, the committee issued four final opinions and is carrying eight requests over to fiscal year 2015, including one that has been issued for public comment.

Opinions issued by the committee address the following topics:

  • Inadvertent receipt of confidential information during the discovery phase of litigation
  • Conflict issues when a government lawyer is furloughed from employment and asked to continue representing the agency
  • Application of Rule 4.2 regarding communications with represented persons in matters in which a lawyer is a GAL.
  • Use of URL when law firm name changes

Opinions issued for public comment and/or pending consideration by the committee address the following topics:

  • Ghostwriting for pro se litigants
  • Debtor’s counsel in Ch. 7 cases claiming full fee is earned at filing of petition
  • Obligations of attorney representing multiple defendants when he learns a client wants to testify against a concurrently represented client
  • Is withdrawal a sufficient remedial measure when client intends to commit perjury?
  • Obligation to appeal when court-appointed client pleads guilty
  • Application of Rule 3.8 to Administrative “Prosecutions”
  • Successor Lawyer’s Obligations when dealing with client’s former attorney’s lien
  • Obligation of prosecutor to unrepresented defendants facing immigration consequences under Rule 3.8(b)

Rule Revisions

Proposed rule amendments currently pending with the Supreme Court of Virginia:

  • An amendment to Rule 1.10 to avoid a situation in which a lawyer avoids the imputation of a conflict of interest by avoiding the knowledge that another lawyer in the firm has a conflict as to the representation. 
  • Proposed Rule 5.8 codifies a number of the suggestions from LEOs on departing lawyers’ obligations into more concrete steps to follow.

Ethics Telephone Calls

In addition to the written requests for ethics opinions outlined above, the number of ethics telephone calls to VSB staff attorneys from July through June averaged 645 per month.

Updated: Jul 01, 2014