Municipal Law: Ethical Challenges for Attorneys

Navigating Local Government Recusal Laws, Conflicts of Interest and Government Immunity

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

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Conducted on Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide municipal legal advisors with a thorough review of the legal ethics issues for counsel representing government agencies. The panel will outline practical solutions to the issues concerning recusal, conflict of interest and government immunity.


Local government counsel regularly face a myriad of ethical issues. Key problematic areas concern recusal laws, conflict of interest, identifying the client, and the scope and applicability of qualified immunity for municipal counsel—whether a government employee or private counsel.

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct recognize that client identification in the government context—and the resulting duties—can be particularly troublesome. Recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court also raise relevant issues for municipal counsel.

Nevada Comm'n on Ethics v. Carrigan addresses a recusal requirement for public officials facing a potential conflict of interest. Filarsky v. Delia (pending review by the Supreme Court) held that private counsel retained by the government is not entitled to qualified immunity.

Listen as our panel of municipal law attorneys discusses the scope and applicability of government immunity for government and private counsel retained by government. The panel will also offer practical solutions to ethical issues concerning local government recusal laws and conflict of interest.



  1. Recusal/conflict of interest laws after Carrigan
  2. Who is the client when answering recusal law questions
  3. Applicability of qualified immunity to a lawyer retained by a governmental agency
  4. Implications to law firms and government if immunity does not apply
  5. Update of recent cases


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • When counsel represents a governing body, who is the client?
  • How far can recusal and conflict of interest laws go?
  • If some type of immunity does not apply, what effect does that have on practitioners asked to represent a government agency?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Michael P. Donaldson
Michael P. Donaldson

Carlton Fields

His practice concentrates in the areas of administrative, land use and environmental law with a focus in assisting or...  |  Read More

Thomas, Robert
Robert H. Thomas

Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert

Mr. Thomas is a land use and appellate lawyer, and focuses on regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and...  |  Read More

Patricia E. Salkin
Patricia E. Salkin

Associate Dean and Director, Government Law Center
Albany Law School

She is a nationally recognized expert on land use law and zoning. In addition, she focuses on government ethics, and is...  |  Read More

Michael T. Kamprath
Michael T. Kamprath

Thresher & Thresher

The focus of his practice includes construction and surety law, as well as environmental,...  |  Read More

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