Standing Committee on Legal Ethics

Marni E. Byrum, chair



Ethics Opinions

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics received seven new opinion requests in fiscal 2012. Since July 1, 2011, the committee issued five opinions and is carrying six requests over to fiscal year 2013.

Opinions issued by the committee address the following topics:

  • Scope of Practice for Foreign Lawyers in Virginia
  • Criminal Defense Lawyer Advising Client Regarding a Plea that Requires Waiver of Right to Later Claim Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Lawyer Agreeing to Indemnify Insurance Company as Condition of Settlement
  • Bankruptcy Trustee Communicating with Represented Debtor
  • Disclosure of Confidential Information in Response to Habeas Petition

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

  • “Of Counsel” Relationship with Law Firm
  • Duty to Make Timely Disclosure of Exculpatory Evidence

Rule Revisions

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

  • Amendments to Rules 7.1-7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that regulate lawyer advertising and solicitation.

Proposed rule amendments currently pending with the committee:

  • An amendment to Rule 1.15 to clarify that funds received from a client or third party must be placed into a clearly identified trust account, not a safe deposit box, and that other forms of property can be placed in a safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping. 
  • An amendment to Rule 1.11(d) providing that a conflict arising from a lawyer’s move from private practice to public employment may be cured with the consent of the applicable clients.

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 to June averaged 598 per month, compared to 519 per month in fiscal year 2011, an increase of 79 calls per month.


Updated: Aug 08, 2012