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05-04 An attorney may charge a flat fee or a minimum fee, so long as the basis for the fee is understood by the client and the fee is reasonable when measured by Rule 1.5(a). Any advance payment remains the property of the client until earned and must be deposited in the attorney’s trust account. If, however, the client knowingly agrees the fee is “earned upon receipt,” it becomes the property of the lawyer and cannot go into the trust account.

When a law firm is retained by a client who previously had a case before a judicial officer and where the judicial officer was subsequently employed by the firm but has since left the firm, the firm is not required to obtain waivers of conflict of interest from opposing parties, assuming that the law firm has not obtained from the judicial officer any information about the opposing party's case.

(1.) The requesting attorney, who is general counsel to a state agency, should not share any information obtained in the course of representing the agency with an attorney whose firm represents an opposing party in any matter to which the agency is a party.

(2.) The requesting attorney should not personally participate, directly or indirectly in any active matter in which the requesting attorney's spouse is involved as an attorney on behalf of the opposing party.

05-01 In the absence of the consent of both parties, a law firm may not continue to represent a client in pending litigation if the firm hires an attorney from a firm representing an opposing party in that litigation.


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1978-Present Index to the Advisory Ethics Opinions of the VBA Committee on Professional Responsibility