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08-01 An Attorney who has previously had and continues to have an active practice representing sellers, purchasers, and lenders in real estate transactions should not participate in a volunteer project to research the existence of unidentified corridors and public ways sponsored by a Town, if the Attorney might be put in the position of researching claims on properties with respect to which the Attorney has represented a client or is representing a client. If the Attorney proposes to be involved in the town committee's work, the Attorney should refrain from representing clients engaged in real estate transactions where the research on unidentified corridors may result in future claims of an encumbrance on the client's property.

08-03 Lawyer’s proposal to share fees with a nonlawyer (mortgage broker) representing clients seeking reduced mortgage payments is impermissible fee-splitting. Nor may Lawyer form an LLC with the nonlawyer, who would own a minority interest in the LLC and be an employee, because to do so could impair Lawyer’s independent professional judgment. It is likewise recommended that Lawyer engage the services of the nonlawyer as an independent contractor or employee only with close and adequate supervision of the work product of the nonlawyer.

08-04 1) A lawyer may not continue to represent a client in trial if another current client will be called as a directly adverse witness by opposing counsel and where the lawyer possesses confidential client information adverse to the client witness that should be used during cross-examination of the client witness.

2)Whether the mid-trial disclosure of the client/witness requires preclusion of the witness, a new trial, or some other consequence is a legal question for the court and outside the scope of this Section’s authority.


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