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Ethics and Dishonest Clients (Live Replay from July 29, 2022)

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Thank you for joining us today.


One of the dangers of practicing law is that, now and again, you get a dishonest client.

Your client may be misleading you – and others – about the facts of their case, either through silence or affirmative misstatements. Or they may be telling you one thing and others something else different. You may discover proof of the dishonesty or just suspect it.

Client dishonesty raises many ethical issues.

  • What must you do to ensure your client is telling you the truth?
  • What if you discover a client is lying to a court or tribunal?
  • Are you allowed to disclose the dishonesty despite the duty of client confidentiality?
  • Are there degrees of client dishonesty – some acceptable, others not?

This program provides a guide to the substantial ethical issues when client dishonesty is discovered or suspected.

  • Tension between the duty of confidentiality and the duty to be honest in communications
  • Determining whether a client is lying – active v. passive, fact v. opinion, affirmative statements v. silence
  • Unknowing attorney representations on basis of client dishonesty
  • Duties of disclosure and to whom – the tribunal, third parties?
  • Mandatory and permissive withdrawals from a case, including "noisy" withdrawals
  • Discovery of dishonesty in closed matters


  • Thomas E. Spahn

    Thomas E. Spahn is a partner in the McLean, Virginia office of McGuireWoods, LLP, where he has a broad complex commercial, business and securities litigation practice. He also has a substantial practice advising businesses on properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections. For more than 20 years he has lectured extensively on legal ethics and professionalism and has written "The Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work Product Doctrine: A Practitioner's Guide," a 750 page treatise published by the Virginia Law Foundation. Mr. Spahn has served as member of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a member of the Virginia State Bar's Legal Ethics Committee. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School

    Click here for more information about Thomas.

January 25, 2023
Wed 1:00 PM EST

Duration 1H 0M

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