Legal Ethics in the Time of COVID-19

Dennis J. Quinn, Chair

In FY 2020, the Committee received two new LEO requests which are still pending before the Committee. The Committee met four times in Richmond; two scheduled meetings were canceled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Committee submitted one proposed rule amendment for review and approval by Council and the Supreme Court of Virginia:

  • Rule 1.15 – Safekeeping Property; approved by SCV on January 9, effective March 15, 2020

The Committee issued two LEOs for review and approval by Council and the SCV:

  • LEO 1890 – Communications with Represented Persons (Compendium Opinion); the opinion was approved by the SCV on January 9, but the order was then vacated on April 7, 2020; the opinion is still pending with the SCV
  • LEO 1891 – Communication with Represented Government Officials; approved by SCV on January 9, 2020, effective immediately

Three matters that were submitted to the SCV during FY 19 were approved in FY 20:

  • Rule 4.4(b) – Respect for Rights of Third Persons; approved by Council in June 2019; approved by SCV October 2, effective December 1, 2019
  • Revisions to LEO 1750 – Advertising Compendium; approved by Council in June 2019; approved by SCV October 2, 2019, effective immediately
  • Revisions to LEO 1872 – Virtual Law Office and Use of Executive Suites; approved by Council in June 2019; approved by SCV October 2, 2019, effective immediately

Rule 3.8, proposed Comment [5] was submitted to the SCV for approval in FY 19 and rejected by the SCV in FY 20.

The Committee also issued four rule changes and two LEOs for public comment: 

  • Rule 1.8 – Conflict of Interest: Prohibited Transactions
  • Rule 1.10 – Imputed Disqualification: General Rule
  • Rule 1.15 – Safekeeping Property
  • Rule 3.3 – Candor toward the Tribunal 
  • LEO 1878 – Successor Lawyer’s Duties in Contingent Fee Matter
  • LEO 1850 – Outsourcing (Revisions)

Committee members for this year: Dennis Quinn (chair), Denise Jackson (vice chair), Randy Cargill, Jeffery Mitchell, Jay Myerson, Michael Robinson, Shannon Taylor, Nathan Veldhuis, and Michael York. VSB staff liaisons are James McCauley, Emily Hedrick, and Seth Guggenheim.

Ethics hotline calls through June 30, 2020, totaled 6,687, for an average of 557 calls per month.

Updated: Jul 16, 2020