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Copyright (c) 2010 Texas Law Review Association
Texas Law Review

Note: The Choice of Rules Clause: A Solution to the Choice of Law Problem in Ethics Proceedings*

* I would like to thank Professor Russell Weintraub for his help in developing the arguments in this Note and also for providing valuable input during the editing process. I am also grateful to the staff and editorial board of the Texas Law Review for their efforts in preparing this Note for publication. I would also like to thank Rex Mann, Billy Joe McLain, and Shane Pennington for their thoughts and feedback during the writing and editing stages of this Note. Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to my parents for their encouragement over the years and my wife Lauren for her steadfast love and support.

March, 2010

Texas Law Review

88 Tex. L. Rev. 855


- J. Mark Little


Client A, the CEO of a corporation, hires two lawyers at a firm to defend him against an anticipated claim of breach of fiduciary duty. One of the lawyers is licensed to practice in both the District of Columbia and Maryland. The other is licensed to practice in Virginia. 1 Both lawyers work in the firm's Virginia office. The client's corporation is incorporated in Maryland but has its principle place of business in Virginia. Client A resides in the District of Columbia. During the course of the representation, but before any action against Client A is filed, Client A informs the two lawyers that he plans to hire someone to intimidate the plaintiffs to prevent them from filing the action. The ethics rules of Virginia require the lawyers to disclose their client's intention to commit a crime. 2 The ethics rules of the District of Columbia and Maryland prohibit disclosure in this situation. 3 What must each lawyer do to comply with the ethics rules?

Under the current system of choice of law for ethics proceedings, neither lawyer in the hypothetical has clear direction on the course of action he should take. This dilemma occurs because the choice of law rules for ethics proceedings rely on vague terms, such as where the "predominant effect" of the conduct will be felt. 4 In the above hypothetical, it is unclear whether the predominant effect of this conduct would be felt in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia because of numerous ...
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