08 May Virginia: Special Cases – a Lawyer’s Departure
Effective May 1, 2015, new Rule 5:8 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct provides procedures for client notification and retention in cases of lawyers leaving law firms and of law firms dissolving. There is no equivalent American Bar Association Rule.
Generally speaking, a departing lawyer and the law firm must confer, or attempt to confer, before either one attempts to give notice to a client. Rule 5:8(a). Absent agreement, a departing lawyer and the law firm each may give the client notice without any “false or misleading statements”. Rule 5:8(b). The client is entitled timely prompt notice of a lawyer’s departure. Rule 5:8(c). Absent a client advising a choice, the client presumptively remains of the law firm, Rule 5:8(d); or in the case of a dissolving firm, of the lawyer primarily responsible for the client’s legal services. Rule 5:8(e).