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Legal Ethics Issues When an Attorney Changes Firms: Managing Client Communications and Files, Work Product, Conflicts

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will prepare law firms and practitioners for legal ethics issues that arise when an attorney leaves one firm for another firm. The panel will discuss critical topics such as client communications, work-product disputes, and conflicts facing the attorney and the new firm.


An attorney's transition from one firm to another is fraught with ethical pitfalls for the attorney and the firms. Legal ethics rules present some challenges regarding the attorney's and the firm's obligations to clients, including notice to clients and business solicitation.

Disputes often arise between a departing attorney and a firm over whether clients will stay with the firm or go with the departing attorney. Both parties may also have opposing claims on client contact information, document templates, and other non-client work product.

An attorney changing firms must communicate some client information to the new firm for conflict review. The ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics issued Formal Opinion 09-455 to guide the timing and scope of disclosures and how the new firm may use the information received.

Listen as our authoritative panel guides you through the myriad legal ethics issues presented when an attorney leaves one firm for another firm and offers approaches to avoid ethical pitfalls during the transition process.



  1. Notice and communication
    1. Notice by departing attorney to the firm
    2. Notice by departing attorney to clients
    3. Notice by the law firm to clients
    4. Post-notice communications with clients
    5. Attorney solicitation of clients
  2. Property of firm vs. departing attorney
    1. Client files
    2. Attorney work-product
    3. Client contact information
  3. The obligation of departing attorney and new firm
    1. Conflict-check obligation by the new firm
    2. Disclosure of client information to a new firm
    3. ABA Formal Opinion 09-455: Disclosure of Conflicts Information When Lawyers Move Between Firms


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • What notice should a departing attorney and law firm provide clients--and how and when should this notice be given?
  • What actions should a law firm avoid after giving clients notice that an attorney is leaving the firm?
  • What rules govern a departing attorney's solicitation of clients from the former firm?
  • Is a departing attorney permitted to retain client contact information from a mobile device provided and paid for by the former firm?
  • What must an attorney disclose to the new firm about former clients--and how may the new firm use this information?


Hartzell, A. Neil
A. Neil Hartzell

Freeman Mathis & Gary

Mr. Hartzell has extensive experience in a broad range of matters, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in...  |  Read More

Krauss, Geri
Geri S. Krauss

Managing Member
Krauss PLLC

Ms. Krauss is a respected litigator and recognized expert on complex issues relating to professional partnerships....  |  Read More

Lefkowitz, David
David Lefkowitz

The Lefkowitz Firm LLC

Mr. Lefkowitz represents individuals and companies (corporations, LLCs, PCs, etc.) in their claims for legal...  |  Read More

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