Skip to content

Opinion 693

Question Presented

  1. May a lawyer who practices in a private law firm that regularly represents a public entity accept a position with a hiring law firm that is routinely adverse to the public entity, without creating a conflict for all lawyers in the hiring firm?
  2. Given that the public entity client is governed by open meetings and open records laws, and aspects of the firm’s representation of the public entity are disclosed publicly or are available under law, does the “generally known” exception to a lawyer’s obligations of confidentiality allow the hiring firm to avoid the migrating lawyer’s conflicts?
  3. Does Rule 1.10 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which allows ethical screening for government lawyers who move to a private law firm, apply to a lawyer who previously represented public entities at a private law firm?

Firm A regularly, if not exclusively, represents public entities, such as school districts or municipalities. A lawyer at Firm A (the “migrating lawyer”) plans to leave Firm A and join Firm B. The migrating lawyer does not intend to bring any clients to Firm B.

Firm B routinely represents clients adverse to the same public entities that Firm A regularly represents, including in pending litigation. Firm B is concerned that if it hires the migrating lawyer it can no longer represent clients adverse to Firm A’s clients. 

Firm A provides a wide range of legal services to its public entity clients, including legal advice and representations regarding transactions, administrative proceedings, and litigation. Much of the subject matter of the public entity’s legal representation is discussed in public sessions of the entity or may be accessible through governmental open records requests by the public. Firm B asks whether the migrating lawyer’s potential conflicts might be alleviated by the “generally known” exception to Rule 1.05’s restriction on the use of client confidential information.

Finally, Firm B asks whether it can effectively screen the migrating lawyer under Rule 1.10, given that the migrating lawyer previously represented only governmental entities.


Bluebook Citation

Tex. Comm. On Professional Ethics, Op. 693 (2022)