Professional Regulation

I. Introduction

II. Patterns of Misconduct and Complaint Avoidance

        A. Introduction
        B. Complaints by Area of Law

III. Obligation to Report Misconduct

IV. Conclusion

Client Funds/Trust Accounts

I. Introduction

II. Rules

        A. "Trust" Accounts
        B. Commingling
        C. Withdrawal From Trust Account Funds
        D. Notification of Client of Receipt of Monies
        E. Maintenance of Complete Records
        F. Accounting to Client
        G. Insufficient Funds and Check Reporting
        H. Prompt Payment or Delivery of Funds to Client or Another
        I. Disbursement on Uncollected Funds
        J. Retention of Records and Disposition of Closed Files
        K. Retention of Unclaimed Client Funds and Property

III. Maintenance of Interest Bearing Trust Accounts

        A. Generally
        B. IOLTA
        C. Other Interest Bearing Trust Accounts
        D. Non-Interest-bearing Trust Accounts
        E. Client Consent

IV. Records

        A. Minimum Requirements for Trust Account
        B. Accounting Systems

V. Procedures

        A. Authorization of Overdraft Reporting
        B. Posting of Transactions
        C. Reconciliation

VI. Lawyers Duty to Supervise Staff Handling Trust Funds
       Exhibit A - Rules of Court, Part 6, Section II - RULE 1.15 Safekeeping Property
       Exhibit B - Rules of Court, Part 6, Section IV Paragraph 20
       Exhibit C - Virginia State Bar Approved Financial Institution Agreement
       Exhibit D - Disciplinary Process of the Virginia State Bar


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I. Getting and Keeping Clients

A. The Traditional Ways
B. Advertising and Marketing of Services
C. Legitimate Restraints on Advertising
D. In-Person Solicitation
E. In-Person Solicitation Not Per Se Unethical Except In Cases Involving Personal Injury or Wrongful Death

II. Types of Advertising

A. Advertising and Solicitation of Clients for an Attorney by Others
B. Legal Services Plans
C. Non-Profit Organizations
D. Lawyer Referral Services and Group Advertising Plans
E. Referrals to Lawyers
F. Prohibited Indirect Solicitation
G. Communication of Fields of Practice and Certification

III. Who is the Lawyer for This Client?

A. Office-Sharing and Actual Partnerships
B. Law Firms with Lawyers Licensed in Different Jurisdictions
C. Partnership with or Influence by a Non-Lawyer

IV. Financial Arrangements with the Client

A. Explanation of Fees
B. Contingent Fees vs. Flat Fees
C. Advancement of Litigation Expenses
D. Division of Fees
E. Fees Owed When Client Prematurely Terminates Relationship
F. Fee Charged for Collection of Medical Expense Payments
G. Amendment of Fee Agreement During Course of Representation
H. Fee Agreement Requiring Arbitration of Malpractice Claim
I. Payment of Fees Using Credit Cards
J. Discounting Fee to Client When Client is a Judge Before Whom Attorney May Appear in Future

K. Mixed Fee Arrangement

V. Statutorily Limited Fees and Illegal Fees

A. Workers' Compensation
B. Examples of Other Fees Set by Statute
C. Civil Rights Cases

VI. Collecting Fees

A. Retaining Files
B. Charging Interest on Uncollected Fees and Costs
C. Non-Refundable Retainers or Minimum Fees
D. Binding Arbitration of Fee Dispute Provisions in Retainer Agreement

E. Disciplinary Cases

VII. Serving the Client Through Alternative Dispute Resolution

A. Introduction
B. The Ethical Duty to Advise the Client Regarding ADR
C. Collaborative Problem-Solving
D. Dispute Resolution Options Available to the Client
E. Virginia State Bar Fee Dispute Program
F. Conclusion

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I. Personal Conflicts of a Lawyer

A. Duty of Loyalty and Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest
B. Lawyer's Self-Interests
C. Conflicts Arising From a Lawyer's Financial, Business, Property or Personal Interests
D. Business Dealings With Clients
E. Acquiring Proprietary Interest in Subject Matter of Litigation
F. Gifts from Clients

G. Sexual Relationships with Clients

II. Conflicting Interests of Clients

A. Concurrent Representation
B. Former Clients
C. Multiple Representation
D. Aggregate Settlement of Claims

III. Imputed Disqualification

IV. Lawyer as Witness

A. Refusal of Employment
B. Withdrawal From Representation Once Undertaken

V. Public Employees Entering Private Employment

A. Judges Entering Private Employment
B. Former Government Lawyers Entering Private Employment

VI.     Conflicts of Interest When Lawyer Serves As Public Official

A. General Rules
B.  Application of Rule to Law Firms Whose Members Serve on Public Bodies
C. Partners’ Obligations With Respect to Mentally Impaired Lawyer in the Firm
D. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in Disciplinary Actions

I. Competence

A. Public Perception and the Lawyer's Dilemma
B. The Definition
C. Uncharted Territory: The Lawyer's "First" Case
D. Examples of Disciplinary Proceedings
E. Maintaining Competence
F. Competence in Using Law Office Technology.

II. Maintaining the Relationship with the Client

A. Communications: The Vital Ingredient
B. Neglect: What It Is; What It Is Not
C. Common Complaints Regarding Neglect
D. Reasons for Neglect
E. Duty To Plan Ahead
F. Special Duties to Unique Clients
G. Limitation of Liability

III. Representing a Client Zealously

A. Pursuing a Client's Objectives
B. Representing a Client Within the Bounds of the Law
C. Use of Information Sent to Attorney in Error by Opposing Counsel

IV. Terminating Representation

A. Introduction
B. Duties of an Attorney Prior to Termination
C. Mandatory Withdrawal
D. Permissive Withdrawal
E. Court Denies Motion to Withdraw

V. Confidences & Secrets

A. Introduction
B. The Principle of Non-Disclosure
C. Exceptions to the General Rule

VI. Substance Abuse and the Lawyer's Responsibility

A. The Problem
B. A Partial Solution

C. Partners’ Obligations With Respect to Mentally Impaired Lawyer in the Firm
D. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in Disciplinary Actions

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Lawyer/Legal System

I. Introduction

A. General
B. "Principles of Professionalism"
C. General Principles of Lawyer Conduct
D. Cooperation Between Lawyers and Tribunals

II. Attorney's Role as Officer of the Court

A. Definition of Tribunal
B. Attorney Conduct Toward the Court
C. Conflicting Duties of Preservation or Disclosure of Client Confidences and Secrets
D. Duty To Reveal Fraud Upon a Tribunal by a Person Other than Client [Rule 3.3(d)]
E. Trial Conduct [Rule 3.4]
F. Diligent Representation Within the Bounds of the Law
G. Informing the Tribunal of Adverse Law
H. Expression of Lawyer's Opinions
I. Ethical Obligations During Pre-Trial Discovery

III. Relationships with Members of the Bar

A. Misconduct [Rule 8.4]
B. Professional Conduct
C. Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession
D. Courtesy
E. Conduct Toward Opposing Lawyers
F. Threatening Criminal Prosecution
G. Deposition Conduct

IV. Contact with Other Parties, Witnesses and Jurors

A. Communicating With One of Adverse Interest
B. Contact with Witnesses
C. Communication with or Investigation of Jurors
D. Trial Publicity [Rule 3.6]
E. Avoiding the Implication of Improper Influence [Rule 1.11]

V. Rules of the Road for the Attorney

VI. Legal Ethics Assistance

A. Legal Ethics Counsel
B. Standing Committee on Legal Ethics

VII. The Attorney Disciplinary System

A. Introduction
B. The Disciplinary Process

VIII. The Judicial Grievance System


I. Introduction

II. Obligation to Profession

A. Maintaining and Improving the Standards of Professionalism
B. Service
C. Improper Criticism of Judges
D. Improving the Profession
E. Support of the Organized Bar

III. Obligation to Society

A. Providing Access to the Legal System
B. Providing Education to the Public
C. Providing Service to Community
D. Providing Affordable Legal Services
E.  Participation in Legal Services Organization

IV. The Lawyer's Duty: Service in the Public Interest

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Copyright 2015 Virginia State Bar. All rights reserved. Updated 11/01/15