“Of counsel” relationships are typically defined by the close, personal, continuous, and regular nature of the relationship. When a close, personal, continuous, and regular relationship exists between an “of counsel” lawyer and a firm, the “of counsel” will be considered a member of the same firm for purposes of Ethical Rule (ER) 1.5(e), governing fee splitting among lawyers, as well as for conflicts purposes. Opinion 86-03 is accordingly withdrawn.
This Opinion discusses the general conflict analysis for government lawyers switching to private practice that may involve representing private clients against the lawyer’s former government agency.
Restrictions on public defender serving as city council member.
Where a lawyer formerly associated with County Attorney's office takes a public defender position, the lawyer may not represent a defendant in connection with a matter about which the lawyer obtained confidential information relating to the government's representation of the client; consent is also required in all cases in which the lawyer actually represented the government, by appearance or otherwise, and now seeks to represent an individual in the same or substantially related matter; the government's consent is likewise required where the lawyer participated personally or substantially in the prosecution of that matter.
Attorney joining county attorney's office from private practice does not require vicarious disqualification of all other attorneys in county attorney's office from prosecution of attorney's former clients.