Lawyers have duties of loyalty and confidentiality to their clients. But lawyers are also officers of the court. That role comes with real and substantial duties to the court or tribunal the lawyer is appearing before, and those duties sometimes create tension with duties owed to clients. Lawyers have certain duties to be candid with the tribunal –about the law, about facts, even when they’re unfavorable. There is also a certain knowledge standard every lawyer must satisfy before making representations to or arguments in front of tribunals. Lawyers are also restricted from having ex parte communications with the courts and judges have certain ethical obligations to disqualify themselves if they have personal relationships with lawyers or litigants. This program will provide you with a practical guide to a range of ethical issues when lawyers appear before courts and other tribunals and the tensions it creates with duties to clients.
· Lawyer ethics when appearing before a court or other tribunal
· Tension between duty to tribunals and loyalty to clients
· Knowledge standard of lawyers appearing before tribunals
· Duty lawyers have to disclose unfavorable facts to courts
· Duty to disclose unfavorable law, even unpublished cases
· Timing issues – at what stage should adverse facts and law be disclosed?
· Ex parte communications with the courts – what’s ethically permissible, what’s not?
· Judicial disqualification for personal relationships with litigants or lawyers
Thomas E. Spahn is a partner in the McLean, Virginia office of McGuireWoods, LLP, where he has a broad complex commercial, business and securities litigation practice. He also has a substantial practice advising businesses on properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections. For more than 20 years he has lectured extensively on legal ethics and professionalism and has written “The Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work Product Doctrine: A Practitioner’s Guide,” a 750 page treatise published by the Virginia Law Foundation. Mr. Spahn has served as member of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a member of the Virginia State Bar's Legal Ethics Committee. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School.
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