End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library
As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.
Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.
We regret any inconvenience.
Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.
Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct
 A lawyer may perform various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client’s legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others. As intermediary between clients, a lawyer seeks to reconcile their divergent interests as an advisor and, to a limited extent, as a spokesperson for each client. As third party neutral, a lawyer represents neither party, but helps the parties arrive at their own solution. As evaluator, a lawyer examines a client’s legal affairs and reports about them to the client or to others.
 In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
 A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.
 As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance, and should therefore devote professional time and civic influence in their behalf. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.
 Many of a lawyer’s professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession, and to exemplify the legal profession’s ideals of public service.
 A lawyer’s responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done. So also, a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.
 In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer’s responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the lawyer’s own interest in remaining an upright person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the Rules.
 The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the legal profession is vested largely in the courts.
 To the extent that lawyers meet the obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession’s independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.
 The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.
 Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.
 The Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are imperatives, cast in the terms “shall” or “shall not.” These define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term “may,” are permissive and define areas under the Rules in which the lawyer has professional discretion. No disciplinary action should be taken when the lawyer chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the lawyer and others. The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in that they define a lawyer’s professional role. Many of the Comments use the term “should.” Comments do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules.
 These Rules follow the same format as the current American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“ABA Model Rules”), rather than the former American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility (“ABA Model Code”), or the former Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility (“Virginia Code”). Although interpretation of similar language in the ABA Model Rules by other states’ courts and bars might be helpful in understanding Virginia’s Rules, those foreign interpretations should not be binding in Virginia.
 The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the lawyer’s role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of lawyers and substantive and procedural law in general. Compliance with the Rules, as with all law in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.
 Furthermore, for purposes of determining the lawyer’s authority and responsibility, principles of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a client-lawyer relationship exists. Most of the duties flowing from the client-lawyer relationship attach only after the client has requested the lawyer to render legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that may attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.
 These Rules apply to all lawyers, whether practicing in the private or the public sector. However, under various legal provisions, including constitutional, statutory and common law, the responsibilities of government lawyers may include authority concerning legal matters that ordinarily reposes in the client in private client-lawyer relationships. For example, a lawyer for a government agency may have authority on behalf of the government to decide upon settlement or whether to appeal from an adverse judgment. Such authority in various respects is generally vested in the Attorney General and the commonwealth attorneys in state government, and their federal counterparts, and the same may be true of other government law officers. Also, lawyers under the supervision of these officers may be authorized to represent several government agencies in intragovernmental legal controversies in circumstances where a private lawyer could not represent multiple private clients. They also may have authority to represent the “public interest” in circumstances where a private lawyer would not be authorized to do so. These Rules do not abrogate any such authority.
 Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a lawyer’s conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a lawyer often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.
 Violation of a Rule should not give rise to a cause of action nor should it create any presumption that a legal duty has been breached. The Rules are designed to provide guidance to lawyers and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability. Furthermore, the purpose of the Rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as procedural weapons. The fact that a Rule is a just basis for a lawyer’s self-assessment, or for sanctioning a lawyer under the administration of a disciplinary authority, does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the Rule. Accordingly, nothing in the Rules should be deemed to augment any substantive legal duty of lawyers or the extra-disciplinary consequences of violating such a duty.
 Moreover, these Rules are not intended to govern or affect judicial application of either the attorney-client or work product privilege. Those privileges were developed to promote compliance with law and fairness in litigation. In reliance on the attorney-client privilege, clients are entitled to expect that communications within the scope of the privilege will be protected against compelled disclosure. The attorney-client privilege is that of the client and not of the lawyer. The fact that in exceptional situations the lawyer under the Rules has either a limited discretion or a limited obligation to disclose a client confidence does not vitiate the proposition that, as a general matter, the client has a reasonable expectation that information relating to the client will not be voluntarily disclosed and that disclosure of such information may be judicially compelled only in accordance with recognized exceptions to the attorney-client and work product privileges.
 The lawyer’s exercise of discretion not to disclose information under Rule 1.6 should not be subject to reexamination. Permitting such reexamination would be incompatible with the general policy of promoting compliance with law through assurances that communications will be protected against disclosure.
 The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The text of each Rule and the following Terminology section are authoritative and the Comments accompanying each Rule are interpretive.
“Consult” or “consultation” denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.
“Firm” or “law firm” denotes a professional entity, public or private, organized to deliver legal services, or a legal department of a corporation or other organization. See Comment, Rule 1.10.
“Partner” denotes a member of a partnership or a shareholder or member of a professional entity, public or private, organized to deliver legal services, or a legal department of a corporation or other organization.
“Reasonable belief” or “reasonably believes” when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that the lawyer believes the matter in question and that the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.
“Reasonably should know” when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would ascertain the matter in question.
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
(a) A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation, subject to paragraphs (b), (c), and (d), and shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decision, after consultation with the lawyer, whether to accept an offer of settlement of a matter. In a criminal case, the lawyer shall abide by the client’s decision, after consultation with the lawyer, as to a plea to be entered, whether to waive jury trial and whether the client will testify.
(b) A lawyer may limit the objectives of the representation if the client consents after consultation.
(c) A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the law.
(e) When a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the lawyer shall consult with the client regarding the relevant limitations on the lawyer’s conduct.
(a) A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to carry out a contract of employment entered into with a client for professional services, but may withdraw as permitted under Rule 1.16.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
(a) A lawyer’s fee shall be reasonable. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(b) The lawyer’s fee shall be adequately explained to the client. When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the amount, basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.
(c) A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall state in writing the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal, litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery, and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.
(e) A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
(3) the total fee is reasonable; and
(f) Paragraph (e) does not prohibit or regulate the division of fees between attorneys who were previously associated in a law firm or between any successive attorneys in the same matter. In any such instance, the total fee must be reasonable.
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information protected by the attorney-client privilege under applicable law or other information gained in the professional relationship that the client has requested be held inviolate or the disclosure of which would be embarrassing or would be likely to be detrimental to the client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in paragraphs (b) and (c).
(b) To the extent a lawyer reasonably believes necessary, the lawyer may reveal:
(2) such information to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client;
(3) such information which clearly establishes that the client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated upon a third party a fraud related to the subject matter of the representation;
(4) such information reasonably necessary to protect a client’s interests in the event of the representing lawyer’s death, disability, incapacity or incompetence;
(6) information to an outside agency necessary for statistical, bookkeeping, accounting, data processing, printing, or other similar office management purposes, provided the lawyer exercises due care in the selection of the agency, advises the agency that the information must be kept confidential and reasonably believes that the information will be kept confidential.
(1) the intention of a client, as stated by the client, to commit a crime and the information necessary to prevent the crime, but before revealing such information, the attorney shall, where feasible, advise the client of the possible legal consequences of the action, urge the client not to commit the crime, and advise the client that the attorney must reveal the client’s criminal intention unless thereupon abandoned, and, if the crime involves perjury by the client, that the attorney shall seek to withdraw as counsel;
(2) information which clearly establishes that the client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud related to the subject matter of the representation upon a tribunal. Before revealing such information, however, the lawyer shall request that the client advise the tribunal of the fraud. For the purposes of this paragraph and paragraph (b)(3), information is clearly established when the client acknowledges to the attorney that the client has perpetrated a fraud; or
(3) information concerning the misconduct of another attorney to the appropriate professional authority under Rule 8.3. When the information necessary to report the misconduct is protected under this Rule, the attorney, after consultation, must obtain client consent. Consultation should include full disclosure of all reasonably foreseeable consequences of both disclosure and non-disclosure to the client.
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and
(2) each client consents after consultation.
(b) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer’s own interests, unless:
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and
(2) the client consents after consultation. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.
(a) A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless:
(1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing to the client in a manner which can be reasonably understood by the client;
(2) the client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction; and
(b) A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client for the advantage of the lawyer or of a third person or to the disadvantage of the client unless the client consents after consultation, except as permitted or required by Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3.
(c) A lawyer shall not solicit, for himself or a person related to the lawyer, any substantial gift from a client including a testamentary gift. A lawyer shall not accept any such gift if solicited at his request by a third party. A lawyer shall not prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, unless the lawyer or other recipient of the gift is related to the client. For purposes of this paragraph, a person related to a lawyer includes a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, or other relative or individual with whom the lawyer or the client maintains a close, familial relationship.
(d) Prior to the conclusion of all aspects of a matter giving rise to the representation of a client, a lawyer shall not make or negotiate an agreement giving the lawyer literary or media rights to a portrayal or account based in substantial part on information relating to the representation.
(1) the client consents after consultation;
(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by Rule 1.6.
(g) A lawyer who represents two or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate settlement of the claims of or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregated agreement as to guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client consents after consultation, including disclosure of the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.
(h) A lawyer shall not make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice, except that a lawyer may make such an agreement with a client of which the lawyer is an employee as long as the client is independently represented in making the agreement.
(i) A lawyer related to another lawyer as parent, child, sibling or spouse, or who is intimately involved with another lawyer, shall not represent a client in a representation directly adverse to a person whom the lawyer knows is represented by the other lawyer except upon consent by the client after consultation regarding the relationship.
(k) While lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly enter into any transaction or perform any activity when one of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), or (j) of this Rule.
(a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless both the present and former client consent after consultation.
(c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(1) use information relating to or gained in the course of the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3 would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or
(b) When a lawyer has terminated an association with a firm, the firm is not prohibited from thereafter representing a person with interests materially adverse to those of a client represented by the formerly associated lawyer and not currently represented by the firm, unless:
(1) the matter is the same or substantially related to that in which the formerly associated lawyer represented the client; and
(c) A disqualification prescribed by this Rule may be waived by the affected client under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7.
(d) The imputed prohibition of improper transactions is governed by Rule 1.8(k).
(e) The disqualification of lawyers associated in a firm with former or current government lawyers is governed by Rule 1.11.
(1) use the public position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, a special advantage in legislative matters for the lawyer or for a client under circumstances where the lawyer knows or it is obvious that such action is not in the public interest;
(3) accept anything of value from any person when the lawyer knows or it is obvious that the offer is for the purpose of influencing the lawyer’s action as a public official.
(b) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee, unless the private client and the appropriate government agency consent after consultation. No lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter unless:
(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer having information that the lawyer knows is confidential government information about a person acquired when the lawyer was a public officer or employee, may not represent a private client whose interests are adverse to that person in a matter in which the information could be used to the material disadvantage of that person. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.
(1) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless under applicable law no one is, or by lawful delegation may be, authorized to act in the lawyer’s stead in the matter; or
(2) negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially, except that a lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer, mediator or arbitrator may negotiate for private employment as permitted by Rule 1.12(b) and subject to the conditions stated in Rule 1.12(b).
(1) any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties; and
(f) As used in this Rule, the term “confidential government information” means information which has been obtained under governmental authority and which, at the time this Rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law from disclosing to the public or has a legal privilege not to disclose, and which is not otherwise available to the public.
(a) Except as stated in paragraph (d), a lawyer shall not represent anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a judge, other adjudicative officer, arbitrator or a law clerk to such a person, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after consultation.
(b) A lawyer shall not negotiate for employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially as a judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator. A lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer, or arbitrator may negotiate for employment with a party or attorney involved in a matter in which the clerk is participating personally and substantially, but only after the lawyer has notified the judge, other adjudicative officer, or arbitrator.
(b) If a lawyer for an organization knows that an officer, employee or other person associated with the organization is engaged in action, intends to act or refuses to act in a matter related to the representation that is a violation of a legal obligation to the organization, or a violation of law which reasonably might be imputed to the organization, and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer shall proceed as is reasonably necessary in the best interest of the organization. In determining how to proceed, the lawyer shall give due consideration to the seriousness of the violation and its consequences, the scope and nature of the lawyer’s representation, the responsibility in the organization and the apparent motivation of the person involved, the policies of the organization concerning such matters and any other relevant considerations. Any measures taken shall be designed to minimize disruption of the organization and the risk of revealing information relating to the representation to persons outside the organization. Such measures may include among others:
(3) referring the matter to higher authority in the organization, including, if warranted by the seriousness of the matter, referral to the highest authority that can act in behalf of the organization as determined by applicable law.
(c) If, despite the lawyer’s efforts in accordance with paragraph (b), the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization insists upon action, or a refusal to act, that is clearly a violation of law and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer may resign or may decline to represent the client in that matter in accordance with Rule 1.16.
(d) In dealing with an organization’s directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, a lawyer shall explain the identity of the client when it is apparent that the organization’s interests are adverse to those of the constituents with whom the lawyer is dealing.
(e) A lawyer representing an organization may also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, subject to the provisions of Rule 1.7. If the organization’s consent to the dual representation is required by Rule 1.7, the consent shall be given by an appropriate official of the organization other than the individual who is to be represented, or by the shareholders.
(a) When a client’s capacity to make adequately considered decisions in connection with a representation is diminished, whether because of minority, mental impairment or some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.
(b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian.
(c) Information relating to the representation of a client with diminished capacity is protected by Rule 1.6. When taking protective action pursuant to paragraph (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized under Rule 1.6(a) to reveal information about the client, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the client’s interests.
(a) All funds received or held by a lawyer or law firm on behalf of a client, other than reimbursement of advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable escrow accounts maintained at a financial institution in the state in which the law office is situated and no funds belonging to the lawyer or law firm shall be deposited therein except as follows:
(2) funds belonging in part to a client and in part presently or potentially to the lawyer or law firm must be deposited therein, and the portion belonging to the lawyer or law firm must be withdrawn promptly after it is due unless the right of the lawyer or law firm to receive it is disputed by the client, in which event the disputed portion shall not be withdrawn until the dispute is finally resolved.
(b) When in the course of representation a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until there is an accounting and severance of their interests. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved.
(c) A lawyer shall:
(1) promptly notify a client of the receipt of the client’s funds, securities, or other properties;
(2) identify and label securities and properties of a client promptly upon receipt and place them in a safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping as soon as practicable;
(d) Funds, securities or other properties held by a lawyer or law firm as a fiduciary shall be maintained in separate fiduciary accounts, and the lawyer or law firm shall not commingle the assets of such fiduciary accounts in a common account (including a book-entry custody account), except in the following cases:
(iii) where (a) a computerized or manual accounting system is established with record-keeping, accounting, clerical and administrative procedures to compute and credit or charge to each fiduciary interest its pro-rata share of common account income, expenses, receipts and disbursements and investment activities (requiring monthly balancing and reconciliation of such common accounts), (b) the fiduciary at all times shows upon its records the interests of each separate fiduciary interest in each fund, security or other property held in the common account, the totals of which assets reconcile with the totals of the common account, (c) all the assets comprising the common account are titled or held in the name of the common account, and (d) no funds or property of the lawyer or law firm or funds or property held by the lawyer or the law firm other than as a fiduciary are held in the common account.
For purposes of this Rule, the term “fiduciary” includes only personal representative, trustee, receiver, guardian, committee, custodian and attorney-in-fact.
(e) Record-Keeping Requirements, Required Books and Records. As a minimum requirement every lawyer engaged in the private practice of law in Virginia, hereinafter called “lawyer,” shall maintain or cause to be maintained, on a current basis, books and records which establish compliance with Rule 1.15(a) and (c). Whether a lawyer or law firm maintains computerized records or a manual accounting system, such system must produce the records and information required by this Rule.
(1) In the case of funds held in an escrow account subject to this Rule, the required books and records include:
(i) a cash receipts journal or journals listing all funds received, the sources of the receipts and the date of receipts. Checkbook entries of receipts and deposits, if adequately detailed and bound, may constitute a journal for this purpose. If separate cash receipts journals are not maintained for escrow and non-escrow funds, then the consolidated cash receipts journal shall contain separate columns for escrow and non-escrow receipts;
(ii) a cash disbursements journal listing and identifying all disbursements from the escrow account. Checkbook entries of disbursements, if adequately detailed and bound, may constitute a journal for this purpose. If separate disbursements journals are not maintained for escrow and non-escrow disbursements then the consolidated disbursements journal shall contain separate columns for escrow and non-escrow disbursements;
(iii) a subsidiary ledger containing a separate account for each client and for every other person or entity from whom money has been received in escrow shall be maintained. The ledger account shall by separate columns or otherwise clearly identify escrow funds disbursed, and escrow funds balance on hand. The ledger account for a client or a separate subsidiary ledger account for a client shall clearly indicate all fees paid from trust accounts;
(i) an annual summary of all receipts and disbursements and changes in assets comparable to an accounting that would be required of a court supervised fiduciary in the same or similar capacity. Such annual summary shall be in sufficient detail as to allow a reasonable person to determine whether the lawyer is properly discharging the obligations of the fiduciary relationship;
(i) Clearly identified escrow accounts required. A lawyer or law firm shall deposit all funds held in escrow in a clearly identified account, and shall inform the financial institution in writing of the purpose and identify of such account. Lawyer escrow accounts shall be maintained only in financial institutions approved by the Virginia State Bar, except as otherwise expressly directed in writing by the client for whom the funds are being deposited;
(ii) Overdraft notification agreement required. A financial institution shall be approved as a depository for lawyer escrow accounts if it shall file with the Virginia State Bar an agreement, in a form provided by the Bar, to report to the Virginia State Bar in the event any instrument which would be properly payable if sufficient funds were available, is presented against a lawyer escrow account containing insufficient funds, irrespective of whether or not the instrument is honored. The Virginia State Bar shall establish rules governing approval and termination of approved status for financial institutions. The Virginia State Bar shall maintain and publish from time to time a list of approved financial institutions.
No escrow account shall be maintained in any financial institution which does not agree to make such reports. Any such agreement shall apply to all branches of the financial institution and shall not be canceled by the financial institution except upon thirty (30) days notice writing to the Virginia State Bar, or as otherwise agreed to by the Virginia State Bar. Any such agreement may be canceled without prior notice by the Virginia State Bar if the financial institution fails to abide by the terms of the agreement;
(iii) Overdraft reports. The overdraft notification agreement shall provide that all reports made by the financial institution shall be in the following format:
a. in the case of a dishonored instrument, the report shall be identical to the overdraft notice customarily forwarded to the depositor, and should include a copy of the dishonored instrument, if such a copy is normally provided to depositors;
b. in the case of instruments that are presented against insufficient funds but which instruments are honored, the report shall identify the financial institution, the lawyer or law firm, the account name, the account number, the date of presentation for payment, and the date paid, as well as the amount of the overdraft created thereby;
c. such reports shall be made simultaneously with and within the time provided by law for notice of dishonor to the depositor, if any. If an instrument presented against insufficient funds is honored, then the report shall be made within five (5) banking days of the date of presentation for payment against insufficient funds;
(iv) Financial institution cooperation. In addition to making the reports specified above, approved financial institutions shall agree to cooperate fully with the Virginia State Bar and to produce any lawyer escrow account or other account records upon receipt of a subpoena therefor.
(vi) Definitions. “Lawyer” means a member of the Virginia State Bar, any other lawyer admitted to regular or limited practice in this State, and any member of the bar of any other jurisdiction while engaged, pro hac vice or otherwise, in the practice of law in Virginia;
“Client” includes any individual, firm, or entity for which a lawyer performs any legal service, including acting as an escrow agent or as legal representative of a fiduciary, but not as a fiduciary. The term does not include a public or private entity of which a lawyer is a full-time employee;
“Financial institution” and “bank” include regulated state or federally chartered banks, savings institutions and credit unions which have signed the approved Notification Agreement, which are licensed and authorized to do business and in which the deposits are insured by an agency of the Federal Government;
“Insufficient Funds” refers to an overdraft in the commonly accepted sense of there being an insufficient balance as shown on the bank’s accounting records; and does not include funds which at the moment may be on deposit, but uncollected;
“Law firm” includes a partnership of lawyers, a professional or nonprofit corporation of lawyers, and a combination thereof engaged in the practice of law. In the case of a law firm with offices in this State and in other jurisdictions, these Rules apply to the offices in this State, to escrow accounts in other jurisdictions holding funds of clients who are located in this State, and to escrow accounts in other jurisdictions holding client funds from a transaction arising in this State;
“Notice of Dishonor” refers to the notice which, pursuant to Uniform Commercial Code Section 3-508(2), must be given by a bank before its midnight deadline and by any other person or institution before midnight of the third business day after dishonor or receipt of notice of dishonor. As generally used hereunder, the term notice of dishonor shall refer only to dishonor for the purpose of insufficient funds, or because the drawer of the bank has no account with the depository institution;
“Properly payable” refers to an instrument which, if presented in the normal course of business, is in a form requiring payment under Uniform Commercial Code Section 4-104, if sufficient funds were available.
(3) Deposit of mixed escrow and non-escrow funds other than fees and retainers. Mixed escrow and non-escrow funds shall be deposited intact to the escrow account. The non-escrow portion shall be withdrawn upon the clearing of the mixed fund deposit instrument;
(4) Periodic trial balance. A regular periodic trial balance of the subsidiary ledger shall be made at least quarter annually, within 30 days after the close of the period and shall show the escrow account balance of the client or other person at the end of each period.
(i) The total of the trial balance must agree with the control figure computed by taking the beginning balance, adding the total of monies received in escrow for the period and deducting the total of escrow monies disbursed for the period; and
(i) A monthly reconciliation shall be made at month end of the cash balance derived from the cash receipts journal and cash disbursements journal total, the escrow account checkbook balance, and the escrow account bank statement balance;
(6) Receipts and disbursements explained. The purpose of all receipts and disbursements of escrow funds reported in the escrow journals and subsidiary ledgers shall be fully explained and supported by adequate records.
(1) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer’s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is illegal or unjust;
(2) the client has used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
(4) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled;
(5) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or
(c) In any court proceeding, counsel of record shall not withdraw except by leave of court after compliance with notice requirements pursuant to applicable Rules of Court. In any other matter, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation, when ordered to do so by a tribunal.
(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned and handling records as indicated in paragraph (e).
(e) All original, client-furnished documents and any originals of legal instruments or official documents which are in the lawyer’s possession (wills, corporate minutes, etc.) are the property of the client and, therefore, upon termination of the representation, those items shall be returned within a reasonable time to the client or the client’s new counsel upon request, whether or not the client has paid the fees and costs owed the lawyer. If the lawyer wants to keep a copy of such original documents, the lawyer must incur the cost of duplication. Also upon termination, the client, upon request, must also be provided within a reasonable time copies of the following documents from the lawyer’s file, whether or not the client has paid the fees and costs owed the lawyer: lawyer/client and lawyer/third-party communications; the lawyer’s copies of client-furnished documents (unless the originals have been returned to the client pursuant to this paragraph); transcripts, pleadings and discovery responses; working and final drafts of legal instruments, official documents, investigative reports, legal memoranda, and other attorney work product documents prepared or collected for the client in the course of the representation; research materials; and bills previously submitted to the client. Although the lawyer may bill and seek to collect from the client the costs associated with making a copy of these materials, the lawyer may not use the client’s refusal to pay for such materials as a basis to refuse the client’s request. The lawyer, however, is not required under this Rule to provide the client copies of billing records and documents intended only for internal use, such as memoranda prepared by the lawyer discussing conflicts of interest, staffing considerations, or difficulties arising from the lawyer-client relationship. The lawyer has met his or her obligation under this paragraph by furnishing these items one time at client request upon termination; provision of multiple copies is not required. The lawyer has not met his or her obligation under this paragraph by the mere provision of copies of documents on an item-by-item basis during the course of the representation.
A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, partially or in its entirety, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) The seller ceases to engage in the private practice of law in the geographic area in which the practice has been conducted, except the lawyer may practice law while on staff of a public agency or legal services entity which provides legal services to the poor, or as in-house counsel to a business.
(5) the fact that the client’s refusal to consent to the transfer of the client’s matter will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise consent within ninety (90) days of receipt of the notice.
(c) If a client involved in a pending matter cannot be given notice, the representation of that client may be transferred to the purchaser only upon entry of an order so authorizing by a court having jurisdiction. The seller may disclose to the court in camera information relating to the representation only to the extent necessary to obtain an order authorizing the transfer of a file.
In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that making the evaluation is compatible with other aspects of the lawyer’s relationship with the client; and
(2) the client consents after consultation.
(c) Except as disclosure is required in connection with a report of an evaluation, information relating to the evaluation is otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
(a) A third party neutral assists parties in reaching a voluntary settlement of a dispute through a structured process known as a dispute resolution proceeding. The third party neutral does not represent any party.
(c) A lawyer may serve as a third party neutral only if the lawyer has not previously represented and is not currently representing one of the parties in connection with the subject matter of the dispute resolution proceeding.
(d) A lawyer may serve as a third party neutral in a dispute resolution proceeding involving a client whom the lawyer has represented or is representing in a matter unrelated to the dispute resolution proceeding, provided:
(3) the third party neutral reasonably believes that a prior or present representation will not compromise or adversely affect the ability to act as a third party neutral; and
(4) there is no unauthorized disclosure of information in violation of Rule 1.6.
(e) A lawyer who serves or has served as a third party neutral may not serve as a lawyer on behalf of any party to the dispute, nor represent one such party against the other in any legal proceeding related to the subject of the dispute resolution proceeding.
(f) A lawyer shall withdraw as third party neutral if any of the requirements stated in this Rule is no longer satisfied or if any of the parties in the dispute resolution proceeding so requests. If the parties are participating pursuant to a court referral, the third party neutral shall report the withdrawal to the authority issuing the referral.
(h) This Rule does not apply to joint representation, which is covered by Rule 1.7.
(a) A lawyer-mediator is a third party neutral (See Rule 2.10) who facilitates communication between the parties and, without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties, enables them to understand and resolve their dispute.
(c) A lawyer-mediator may offer legal information if all parties are present or separately to the parties if they consent. The lawyer-mediator shall inform unrepresented parties or those parties who are not accompanied by legal counsel about the importance of reviewing the lawyer-mediator’s legal information with legal counsel.
(d) A lawyer-mediator may offer evaluation of, for example, strengths and weaknesses of positions, assess the value and cost of alternatives to settlement or assess the barriers to settlement (collectively referred to as evaluation) only if such evaluation is incidental to the facilitative role and does not interfere with the lawyer-mediator’s impartiality or the self-determination of the parties.
(1) consult with prospective parties about
(2) enter into a written agreement to mediate which references the choice and expectations of the parties, including whether the parties have chosen, permit or expect the use of neutral evaluation or evaluative techniques during the course of the mediation.
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(3) fail to disclose to the tribunal controlling legal authority in the subject jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or
(b) A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.
(c) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.
(d) A lawyer who receives information clearly establishing that a person other than a client has perpetrated a fraud upon a tribunal shall promptly reveal the fraud to the tribunal.
A lawyer shall not:
(a) Obstruct another party’s access to evidence or alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value for the purpose of obstructing a party’s access to evidence. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act.
(1) reasonable expenses incurred by a witness in attending or testifying;
(2) reasonable compensation to a witness for lost earnings as a result of attending or testifying;
(3) a reasonable fee for the professional services of an expert witness.
(d) Knowingly disobey or advise a client to disregard a standing rule or a ruling of a tribunal made in the course of a proceeding, but the lawyer may take steps, in good faith, to test the validity of such rule or ruling.
(e) Make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request by an opposing party.
(f) In trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant or the guilt or innocence of an accused.
(3) the lawyer reasonably believes that the person’s interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.
(j) File a suit, initiate criminal charges, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.
(1) before or during the trial of a case, directly or indirectly, communicate with a juror or anyone the lawyer knows to be a member of the venire from which the jury will be selected for the trial of the case, except as permitted by law;
(iii) communicate with a member of that jury if the juror has made known to the lawyer a desire not to communicate; or
(c) A lawyer shall reveal promptly to the court improper conduct by a member of a venire or a juror, or by another toward a venireman or a juror or a member of the juror’s family, of which the lawyer has knowledge.
(d) A lawyer shall not give or lend anything of value to a judge, official, or employee of a tribunal under circumstances which might give the appearance that the gift or loan is made to influence official action.
(e) In an adversary proceeding, a lawyer shall not communicate, or cause another to communicate, as to the merits of the cause with a judge or an official before whom the proceeding is pending, except:
(a) A lawyer participating in or associated with the investigation or the prosecution or the defense of a criminal matter that may be tried by a jury shall not make or participate in making an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication that the lawyer knows, or should know, will have a substantial likelihood of interfering with the fairness of the trial by a jury.
(b) A lawyer shall exercise reasonable care to prevent employees and associates from making an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer would be prohibited from making under this Rule.
(3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.
(b) If, after undertaking employment in contemplated or pending litigation, a lawyer learns or it is obvious that the lawyer may be called as a witness other than on behalf of the client, the lawyer may continue the representation until it is apparent that the testimony is or may be prejudicial to the client.
A lawyer engaged in a prosecutorial function shall:
(a) not file or maintain a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;
(b) not knowingly take advantage of an unrepresented defendant;
(d) make timely disclosure to counsel for the defendant, or to the defendant if he has no counsel, of the existence of evidence which the prosecutor knows tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the degree of the offense, or reduce the punishment, except when disclosure is precluded or modified by order of a court; and
(e) not direct or encourage investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case to make an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6.
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(b) Fail to disclose a fact when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client.
In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so.
(a) In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.
(b) A lawyer shall not give advice to a person who is not represented by a lawyer, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interest of the client.
In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
(a) A partner in a law firm, or a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses managerial authority, shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
(b) A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has managerial authority in the law firm in which the other lawyer practices, or has direct supervisory authority over the other lawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.
With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
(a) a partner or a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has managerial authority in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows or should have known of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.
(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:
(1) an agreement by a lawyer with the lawyer’s firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the lawyer’s death, to the lawyer’s estate or to one or more specified persons;
(2) a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared lawyer may pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer that portion of the total compensation that fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer;
(3) a lawyer or law firm may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement; and
(c) A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.
(1) a nonlawyer owns any interest therein, except as provided in (a)(3) above, or except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a lawyer may hold the stock or interest of the lawyer for a reasonable time during administration;
(b) A lawyer, law firm or professional corporation shall not employ in any capacity a lawyer whose license has been suspended or revoked for professional misconduct, during such period of suspension or revocation, if the disciplined lawyer was associated with such lawyer, law firm or professional corporation at any time on or after the date of the acts which resulted in suspension or revocation.
(c) A lawyer, law firm or professional corporation employing a lawyer as a consultant, law clerk or legal assistant when that lawyer’s license is suspended or revoked for professional misconduct shall not represent any client represented by the disciplined lawyer or by any lawyer with whom the disciplined lawyer practiced on or after the date of the acts which resulted in suspension or revocation.
A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:
(b) an agreement in which a broad restriction on the lawyer’s right to practice is part of the settlement of a controversy, except where such a restriction is approved by a tribunal or a governmental entity.
(a) A lawyer should render at least two percent per year of the lawyer’s professional time to pro bono publico legal services. Pro bono publico services include poverty law, civil rights law, public interest law, and volunteer activities designed to increase availability of pro bono legal services.
(b) A law firm or other group of lawyers may satisfy their responsibility collectively under this Rule.
(c) Direct financial support of programs that provide direct delivery of legal services to meet the needs described in (a) above is an alternative method for fulfilling a lawyer’s responsibility under this Rule.
A lawyer should not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:
(b) representing the client is likely to result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer; or
A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, apart from the law firm in which the lawyer practices, notwithstanding that the organization serves persons having interests adverse to a client of the lawyer. The lawyer shall not knowingly participate in a decision or action of the organization:
(a) if participating in the decision or action would be incompatible with the lawyer’s obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or
(a) A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited legal services to a client without expectation by either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter:
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2), Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.
(a) A lawyer shall not, on behalf of the lawyer or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the firm, use or participate in the use of any form of public communication if such communication contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement or claim. For example, a communication violates this Rule if it:
(4) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(b) Public communication means all communication other than “in-person” communication as defined by Rule 7.3.
(a) Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public media. In the determination of whether an advertisement violates this Rule, the advertisement shall be considered in its entirety, including any qualifying statements or disclaimers contained therein. Notwithstanding the requirements of Rule 7.1, an advertisement violates this Rule if it:
(1) contains an endorsement by a celebrity or public figure who is not a client of the firm without disclosure (i) of the fact that the speaker is not a client of the lawyer or the firm, and (ii) whether the speaker is being paid for the appearance or endorsement; or
(3) advertises specific or cumulative case results, without a disclaimer that (i) puts the case results in a context that is not misleading; (ii) states that case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case; and (iii) further states that case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer. The disclaimer shall precede the communication of the case results. When the communication is in writing, the disclaimer shall be in bold type face and uppercase letters in a font size that is at least as large as the largest text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results and in the same color and against the same colored background as the text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results.
(b) A recording of the actual electronic media advertisement shall be approved by the lawyer prior to its broadcast and retained by the lawyer for a period of one year following the last broadcast date, along with a record of when and where it was used, which recording and date shall be provided to the Standing Committee on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation upon its request.
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17.
(d) A written or e-mail communication that bears the lawyer’s or firm’s name and the purpose of which in whole or in part is an initial contact to promote employment for a fee, sent to a prospective non-lawyer client who is not:
1. a close friend, relative, current client, former client; or
2. one who has initiated contact with the attorney; or
3. one who is similarly situated with a current client of the attorney with respect to a specific matter being handled by the attorney, to the extent that the prospective client’s rights may be reasonably expected to be materially affected by the outcome of the matter;
shall be identified by conspicuous display of the statement in upper case letters “ADVERTISING MATERIAL.”
The required statement shall be displayed in the lower left hand corner of the address portion of the communication in type size at least equal to the largest type used on the communication and also on the front of the first page of the communication in type size at least equal to the largest type used on the page. Further, in the case of e-mail advertising or solicitation, the header shall also display the statement, in uppercase letters, “ADVERTISING MATERIAL.”
Further, any such written communication shall not be sent by registered mail or other forms of restricted delivery, nor shall such written communication be sent to any person who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to receive communications from the lawyer. Lawyers who advertise or solicit by e-mail shall include instructions of how the recipient of such communications may notify the sender that they wish not to receive such communications in the future.This paragraph does not apply to any communication which is directed to be sent by a court or tribunal, or otherwise required by law.
(a) A lawyer shall not, by in-person communication, solicit employment as a private practitioner for the lawyer, a partner, or associate or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the firm from a non-lawyer who has not sought advice regarding employment of a lawyer if:
(1) such communication contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement or claim; or
(2) such communication has a substantial potential for or involves the use of coercion, duress, compulsion, intimidation, threats, unwarranted promises of benefits, over persuasion, overreaching, or vexatious or harassing conduct, taking into account the sophistication regarding legal matters, the physical, emotional or mental state of the person to whom the communication is directed and the circumstances in which the communication is made.In-person communication means face-to-face communication and telephonic communication.
(b) A lawyer shall not assist in, cooperate with, or offer any qualified legal services plan or assist in or cooperate with any insurer providing legal services insurance as authorized by law to promote the use of services or those of the lawyer’s partner or associate or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the firm if that assistance, cooperation or offer, and the communications of the organization, are not in accordance with the standards of this Rule or Rule 7.1 and 7.2, as appropriate.
(c) A lawyer shall not assist a nonprofit organization which provides without charge legal services to others as a form of political or associational expression to promote the use of services or those of the lawyer’s partner or associate or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the firm if
(1) the assistance or the communications of the organization on the lawyer’s behalf are false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive; or
(2) the assistance or the communications of the organization on the lawyer’s behalf involve the use of coercion, duress, compulsion, intimidation, threats, unwarranted promises of benefits, over persuasion, overreaching, or vexatious or harassing conduct, taking into account the physical, emotional or mental state of the person to whom the communication is directed and the circumstances in which the communication is made.
(d) A lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in employment by a client, except that the lawyer may pay for public communications permitted by Rule 7.1 and 7.2 and the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a lawyer referral service and any qualified legal services plan or contract of legal services insurance as authorized by law, provided that such communications of the service or plan are in accordance with the standards of this Rule or Rule 7.1 and 7.2, as appropriate.
(e) A lawyer shall not accept employment when the lawyer knows or it is obvious that the person who seeks the lawyer’s services does so as a result of any person’s conduct which is prohibited under this Rule.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Rule, a lawyer shall not initiate in-person solicitation of professional employment for compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death claim of a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship. In-person solicitation means face-to-face communication and telephone communication.
Lawyers may state, announce or hold themselves out as limiting their practice in a particular area or field of law so long as the communication of such limitation of practice is in accordance with the standards of this Rule, Rule 7.1, Rule 7.2, and Rule 7.3, as appropriate. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer has been recognized or certified as a specialist in a particular field of law except as follows:
(a) A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation;
(b) A lawyer engaged in Admiralty practice may use as a designation “ Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or a substantially similar designation;
(c) A lawyer who has been certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia as a specialist in some capacity may use the designation of being so certified, e. g., “certified mediator” or a substantially similar designation;
(d) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer has been certified as a specialist in a field of law by a named organization, provided that the communication clearly states that there is no procedure in the Commonwealth of Virginia for approving certifying organizations.
(a) A lawyer or law firm may use or participate in the use of a professional card, professional announcement card, office sign, letterheads, telephone directory listing, law list, legal directory listing, website, or a similar professional notice or device unless it includes a statement or claim that is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive. A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1 and 7.2.
(b) A law firm shall not be formed or continued between or among lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions unless all enumerations of the members and associates of the firm on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations of those members and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; however, the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction.
(c) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.
An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer already admitted to the bar, in connection with a bar admission application, any certification required to be filed as a condition of maintaining or renewing a license to practice law, or in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not:
(a) knowingly make a false statement of material fact;
(b) fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension known by the person to have arisen in the matter;
(c) fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6; or
A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge or other judicial officer.
(a) A lawyer having reliable information that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law shall inform the appropriate professional authority.
(b) A lawyer having reliable information that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
(c) If a lawyer serving as a third party neutral receives reliable information during the dispute resolution process that another lawyer has engaged in misconduct which the lawyer would otherwise be required to report but for its confidential nature, the lawyer shall attempt to obtain the parties’ written agreement to waive confidentiality and permit disclosure of such information to the appropriate professional authority.
(d) This Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6 or information gained by a lawyer or judge who is a member of an approved lawyer’s assistance program, or who is a trained intervenor or volunteer for such a program or committee, or who is otherwise cooperating in a particular assistance effort, when such information is obtained for the purposes of fulfilling the recognized objectives of the program.
(1) the lawyer has been disciplined by a state or federal disciplinary authority, agency or court in any state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, for a violation of rules of professional conduct in that jurisdiction;
(3) the lawyer has been convicted of either a crime involving theft, fraud, extortion, bribery or perjury, or an attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses, in a state, U.S. territory, District of Columbia, or federal court.
(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation which reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law;
(e) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.
Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law
(a) Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both this jurisdiction and another jurisdiction where the lawyer is admitted for the same conduct.
(b) Choice of Law. In any exercise of the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, the Rules of Professional Conduct to be applied shall be as follows:
(1) for conduct in connection with a proceeding in a court before which a lawyer has been admitted to practice (either generally or for purposes of that proceeding), the rules to be applied shall be the rules of the jurisdiction in which the court sits, unless the rules of the court provide otherwise; and
(2) for any other conduct,
(i) if the lawyer is licensed to practice only in this jurisdiction, the rules to be applied shall be the rules of this jurisdiction, and
(ii) if the lawyer is licensed to practice in this and another jurisdiction, the rules to be applied shall be the rules of the admitting jurisdiction in which the lawyer principally practices; provided, however, that if particular conduct clearly has its predominant effect in another jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed to practice, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to that conduct.