Thomas E. Spahn Counsel

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Tom practices as a commercial litigator. He regularly advises Fortune 500 companies on such high-stakes issues as properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections when conducting corporate investigations, when hiring outside consultants, when dealing with the government, and during other daily and extraordinary situations. He also advises in-house counsel on ethics issues, including conflict of interest, confidentiality, and dealing with corporate wrongdoing.

Tom was selected as the 2013 and the 2020 metro-Washington, DC “Lawyer of the Year” for “Bet the Company Litigation” by The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, Inc.). In 2018, Virginia Lawyers Weekly selected Tom for inclusion in the inaugural Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

Tom has written a two-volume 1,500 page book on the attorney – client privilege and work product doctrine on a national level (all profits go to the non-profit Virginia Law Foundation).

Tom has made available a 300 page summary of the book, which you can access here. In 2023, Tom updated an 1,100 page compilation of key privilege and work product cases, which you can access here.

Tom has also written books on defamation and ethics issues facing in house lawyers. He has published several book chapters and more than 75 articles in Virginia and national publications on numerous topics. In January 2016, the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division republished Tom’s article entitled “The ABA’s Puzzling Confidentiality Rule” after selecting it as one of only five “Best of ABA Sections” articles. The ABA similarly honored Tom’s article on “Litigation Ethics in the Modern Age” in 2004.

Since 1988, Tom has spoken at more than 2,200 CLE programs throughout the United States, and in several foreign countries. In March 2009, Tom was invited to Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss an ethics issue on Iceland’s leading news and interview show. In July 2012, he was invited to Erbil, Iraq, to participate in a panel assisting the Kurdistan Bar Association in establishing ethics rules.

Tom has served on the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, and on numerous Virginia State Bar and Virginia Bar Association committees. As chairman of the Virginia Bar Association Commission on Professionalism, he acted as principal drafter of Principles of Professionalism that have been endorsed by the Virginia Supreme Court and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and commended by both of Virginia’s federal district courts. As chairman of the Virginia State Bar Committee on Publications/Public Information, Tom led the committee in developing public service announcements articulating lawyers’ benefit to society, which were extensively published in Virginia, and purchased by the bars of six other states and the Canadian Bar Association.

After personally reading, summarizing, and categorizing more than 1,600 Virginia Bar and American Bar Association legal ethics opinions, he made his work available to the public online.

Since June 2000, Tom has issued short email alerts every Wednesday afternoon describing attorney-client privilege and work product developments. You can access more than 1,200 of these “Privilege Points” and sign up to receive them here.

Tom has prepared a chart describing many of his ethics programs, and made his materials available for educational use. The materials total about 10,000 pages of analysis. You can access the chart and the materials here.


  • Representation of a Central Asian government in proceeding before a Special Court of Inquiry in New Delhi, India, investigating the deadliest mid air collision in aviation history.
  • Representation of an automobile manufacturer in connection with America’s worst drunk driving accident.
  • Representation of an equipment manufacturer in depositions in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Representation of a utility in litigation involving easement rights over one of America’s most popular walking and biking path.