The Duty of Confidentiality and Professionalism Issues in Litigation

November 5, 2014

Confidentiality (Strength and Scope of the Duty)

In the first hour, Spahn used hypotheticals to address one of our profession’s core duties – maintaining client confidences. Among other things, the program addressed the strength of the duty; the source, timing and content of information lawyers must keep confidential; and when the confidentiality duty begins and when it ends.

Professionalism Issues Involving Claims and Settlements

In the second hour, Spahn focused on professionalism issues involving litigation: the ethical implications of frivolous claims, lawyers who “ghostwrite” pleadings for pro se litigants, and knowingly filed time-barred claims. This program also discussed settlements, including acceptable levels of deception during settlement negotiations. Although the discussion focused on litigation, the basic principles apply equally to transactional negotiations.


Thomas E. Spahn, Partner, McGuireWoods LLP

Spahn has served on the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, and has spoken at more than 1,200 CLE programs on ethics and other topics. Tom was selected as the 2013 metro-Washington, D.C., “Lawyer of the Year” for “Bet the Company Litigation” by Best Lawyers®.