State Bar of Michigan
home member area contact us


 print this page

for members
SBM general information

member directory

admissions, ethics, and

diversity & inclusion

justice initiatives

member services

practice management
   resource center

public policy resource

publications and

research and links

sections & committees

ethics for members
ethics developments
ethics opinions
TAON (trust accounts)

from the courts
opinion searching
virtual court

for the public
public resources
media resources

giving opportunities
a lawyer helps
access to justice

Ethics Opinion

print this page


August 27, 1984


    A law firm hiring a lawyer formerly employed at a law firm representing a party adverse to a client of the hiring firm, may continue its representation of the client if the hired lawyer does not possess confidences or secrets of the adverse party and is screened from participating in the case for the hiring firm.

    References: MCPR DR 4-101, DR 5-105; CI-652.


A law firm contemplates hiring a lawyer currently employed by a law firm appearing as opposing counsel in one or more cases in which the hiring firm represents clients. The new lawyer would not participate in the handling of the matters at the hiring firm. The law firm asks whether hiring the lawyer would require withdrawal from those cases.

MCPR DR 4-101(B) states:

    "Except when permitted under DR 101(C), a lawyer shall not knowingly:

      "(1) Reveal a confidence or secret of his client.

      "(2) Use a confidence or secret of his client to the disadvantage of the client."

Canon 9 provides that "a lawyer should avoid even the appearance of professional impropriety."

"A law firm may continue to represent one of several defendants in a civil action when one of the members of such law firm previously was a member of a law firm which represented the plaintiff in the subject litigation, provided that such lawyer who was a member of the law firms that represented both plaintiff and such defendant has no actual knowledge regarding the case and does not participate on behalf of the defendant client in said action." CI-652.

The question thus is what knowledge, if any, the hired lawyer has of the facts in the subject cases from the prior firm. If the hired lawyer has actual knowledge, the hiring firm would have to withdraw. The term "facts" besides including the actual circumstances of the dispute, would also include the legal analyses of the problems involved and strategies or tactics which the previous firm may have worked out with their client(s) since these are either confidences or secrets of the client or necessary outgrowths of them.



follow us
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on LinkedIn Follow Us on Twitter Follow the SBM Blog


©Copyright 2015

website links
Contact Us
Site Map
Website Privacy Statement PDF
Staff Links

SBM on the Mapcontact information
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248