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Ethics and Pre-Trial Investigations (Teleseminar)
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Ethics and Pre-Trial Investigations (Teleseminar)

1 CLE hour, including 1 Ethics hour

When: 09/08/2015
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Contact: (404) 521-0781

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An 800 number connects you to nationally recognized practice leaders who will speak on important issues and emerging trends in the law. You can also pose your own questions to the speakers. Written materials and other details are emailed in advance to pre-registrants.


Ethics and Pre-Trial Investigations - 1 CLE hour, including 1 Ethics hour


The course of litigation often depends on what’s uncovered in pre-trial investigations. Indeed, attorneys are required by ethics rules to investigate a case before a lawsuit is even filed.  Zealous representation requires a thorough investigation of the parties and underlying facts and with the advent of social media, together with the vast amounts of email and text messages that are discoverable, there is more information available than ever before. But there are also ethical restraints on how aggressive attorneys – or their third-party investigators – can be in investigating a case.  Some dissembling is allowed, but most is prohibited.  Ethics rules generally permit social media and other digital research, but “pre-texting” to obtain information is circumscribed.  This program will provide you with a real-world guide to the ethics of pre-trial investigations, what attorneys can and cannot do ethically.

  • Attorney ethics in pre-trial investigations – the do’s, don’ts, and common traps
  • Duty of an attorney to investigate a case before filing a lawsuit
  • “Pre-texting” – the ethics of deception when attorneys represent themselves to be someone else and when dissembling is allowed in investigations
  • Determining who your client is in an investigation and determining conflicts of interest
  • What you can and cannot do when investigating a party’s social media profiles and usage, including ex parte communications
  • Does using a third-party investigator to conduct the investigation instead of doing it yourself matter?
  • Limitations on investigating members of a jury or jury pool
  • Real world consequences when investigations go awry – discipline, sanctions, exclusion of evidence obtained




William Freivogel is the principal of Freivogel Ethics Consulting and is an independent consultant to law firms on ethics and risk management.  He was a trial lawyer for 22 years and has practiced in the areas of legal ethics and lawyer malpractice for more than 25 years.  He is chair of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct. and past chair of the ABA Business Law Section Committee on Professional Responsibility.  He maintains the Web site “Freivogel on Conflicts” at  Mr. Freivogel is a graduate of the University of Illinois (Champaign), where he received his B.S. and LL.B.


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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