The Ethics of Bad Facts and Bad Law



  • Available Until 6/24/2022
  • Next Class Time 12:00 PM CT
  • Duration 60 min.
  • Format MP3 Download
  • Activity Code:   223413
  • Ethics Credits 1 hour(s)

Course Price: $79.00



Every representation involves “bad” facts and/or “bad” law – facts and law that run counter to a client’s objectives.  Ethical tensions and issues arise when a lawyer has todisclose bad facts or law to a court or administrative panel, or even to an adversary. At what point does the lawyer’s duty as a member of the bar and officer of the court require disclosure even when it is adverse to a client’s interest whom the lawyer must zealously represent?  What are the limits to how a lawyer may represent an adverse fact or adverse law, even unpublished law, to an adversary?  Answering these difficulty questions may not only impact the outcome of a representation but potentially expose ethical sanction.  This program will provide you with a practical guide to the ethical issues surrounding bad facts and bad law in client representations.

  • Lawyer ethical duties to disclose bad facts and bad law
  • Ethical issues surrounding the representation of adverse facts to tribunals and adversaries
  • Duties to disclose adverse legal precedent to courts and administrative panels
  • When is a lawyer required to disclose bad fact or law versus when they may disclose?
  • Timing issues – at what stage should adverse facts and law be disclosed?
  • Related issues of confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege
  • Ex parte communications with the courts – what’s ethically permissible, what’s not?



Thomas E. Spahn is a partner in the McLean, Virginia office of McGuireWoods, LLP, where he has a substantial practice advising clients on properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections.For more than 30 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 a 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.