Continuing Legal Education

TELESEMINAR: Ethics of Beginning and Ending an Attorney-Client Relationship – A National Perspective

May 9, 2014
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1.00 MCLE hours, including 1.00 Professional Responsibility MCLE credit hours (PMCLE credit subject to approval)


There are significant ethical issues at the beginning and at the end of every attorney-client relationship. Mismatches in expectations about communication, the scope of the representation, and fees easily lead to disappointments and ethics complaints. Also, the prevalence of technology has manifold benefits but also ethics traps, including the “accidental” client acquired through an email exchange or a phone call, social media or blogging. The issues of a joint representation also raise complicated issues. In the same way, ending a relationship involves issues of timing, fee collection, and file/case transfers. This program will provide you with a real-world guide to avoiding ethical traps when beginning and ending a client relationship, including client intake, joint representations, and knowing when and how to end a representation.


  • Ethical issues in beginning and terminating an attorney-client relationship
  • Determining when an engagement begins and the scope of the representation
  • How joint representations raise different and difficult ethics issues than single client representations
  • Technology issues – unsolicited email, blogging, social media and accidental clients
  • Ethically ending an attorney-client relationship, including timing, billing issues, and file/case transfers
  • Circumstances mandating withdrawal from a case


For more information about ISBA's Teleseminar programs, please visit:

Program Speakers:
William Freivogel,
Freivogel Ethics Consulting, Chicago
Thomas E. Spahn, McGuireWoods, LLP, Virginia


*Professional Responsibility MCLE credit subject to approval

William Freivogel is the principal of Freivogel Ethics Consulting and is an independent consultant to law firms on ethics and risk management.  He was a trial lawyer for 22 years and has practiced in the areas of legal ethics and lawyer malpractice for more than 25 years.  He is chair of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct. and past chair of the ABA Business Law Section Committee on Professional Responsibility.  He maintains the Web site “Freivogel on Conflicts” at Mr. Freivogel is a graduate of the University of Illinois (Champaign), where he received his B.S. and LL.B.

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.