Continuing Legal Education

TELESEMINAR: Ethics in Claims and Settlements: Frivolous Claims, Ghostwriting Pleadings, Settlement Authority and More – A National Perspective

October 30, 2012
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1.00 MCLE hours, including 1.00 Professional Responsibility MCLE credit hours (PMCLE credit subject to approval)


From filing a claim to settlement, litigation can involve many gray ethical areas.  How valid is a claim factually or legally, and at what point is it so frivolous that you are acting improperly to pursue it?  Must you investigate the facts presented to you by a client before filing a claim?  When you are not counsel of record – and perhaps do not want to be involved with the case – how far can you going in ghostwriting a claim or pleadings?  At what point is your help of someone else improper deception?  In the same say, what’s the line separating legitimate jockeying for position in a litigation versus improper deception in settlement?  Exactly how much of what you know about the facts or the law or the status of witnesses are you required to share with opposing counsel?  These and related questions will be examined in this program on ethical issues in frivolous claims, ghostwriting in litigation, and settlements.


  • Ghostwriting claims and pleadings – how far can you go in helping a litigant when you are not counsel of record?
  • Conflicting approaches of ethics rules and the courts to sanctioning ghostwriting in litigation
  • Frivolous factual and frivolous legal claims – understanding the differences and ethics issues in each
  • Ethics of serving unenforceable subpoenas in the hope the recipient will think its enforceable and cooperate
  • Ethics in settlements – silence about facts, the law, mistakes in settlement documents, and the death of witnesses
  • Enforceability of settlement agreements and ethics challenges


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Program Speaker:
Thomas E. Spahn, McGuireWoods, LLP, Virginia

*Professional Responsibility MCLE credit subject to approval

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.