Navigating the Ethical Minefield When Lawyers Become Witnesses, Subjects, or Targets of Investigation

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 62 minutes
Recorded Date: May 11, 2021
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  • Hypothetical Situation
  • ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41: Search and Seizure
  • Justice Manual Section 9-13.410: Guidelines for Issuing Subpoenas to Attorneys for Information Relating to the Representation of Clients
  • Justice Manual Section 9-13.420: Searches of Premises of Subject Attorneys
  • U.S. v. Under Seal—in re: Search Warrant Issued June 13, 2019 (October 31, 2019)
Runtime: 1 hour, 2 minutes
Recorded: May 11, 2021


This webinar will focus on the ethical rules, privilege issues, and potential conflicts that arise when a lawyer's work on behalf of a client becomes relevant to a federal investigation. When a lawyer becomes a witness, subject, or target of an investigation, the lawyer is thrust into the spotlight and develops personal interests that may conflict with the client's interests and the lawyer's ethical duties. What happens when the DOJ and other agencies appear to target lawyers and law firms for the issuance of subpoenas, the execution of search warrants, and even criminal charges?

Panelists will explore ethical rules relating to a lawyer's obligations of candor toward the tribunal and an opposing party (RPC 3.3, 3.4), which become of heightened importance when the lawyer's client is providing testimony or information in connection with an investigation. They will cover a lawyer's obligations for safeguarding client confidences (RPC 1.6, 1.9, 1.18) and maintaining the attorney-client privilege (RPC 1.4), paramount when the law firm is the recipient of a subpoena or search warrant. Additionally, the webinar will explore potential conflicts of interest that may develop when the lawyer herself becomes a potential party to a criminal investigation (RPC 1.7, 1.8), including rules governing the circumstances under which the lawyer might cooperate or reveal client confidences (RPC 1.4, 1.6, 1.7). Finally, the panelists will explore the rules governing whether the lawyer may continue representing the client, either with respect to the conduct under investigation or with respect to other unrelated matters (RPC 1.7, 1.16, 3.7).

This program was recorded on May 11th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Catherine K. Connelly

Corporate Counsel - Investigations
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Kate Connelly is an Investigations attorney based in Falls Church, Virginia. She directs and conducts significant internal investigations on a broad range of issues, including potential violations of the False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, conflicts of interest, security clearance issues, insider threats, mischarging, and counterfeit parts. She also identifies and manages potential civil and criminal risk to the Company and handles responses to government, customer, and regulator investigations and subpoenas.

Kate joined Northrop Grumman in 2015 after spending 13 years as a federal prosecutor. As an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Kate prosecuted cases involving money laundering, mail fraud, racketeering, weapons offenses, narcotics, crimes against children, sex offenses, and violent crimes. During her last 18 months at the USAO, Kate managed 60 attorneys as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.

From 2009 to 2010, Kate was Special Counsel to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. In that role she advised Director Mueller and senior FBI officials on internal and inter-agency matters and served as a liaison between the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Vice President.

Kate is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Smith College. She clerked for the Honorable Mary M. Lisi of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Kate is a former foster parent, and in 2014 she received the Spirit of Support Award from the Alexandria/Arlington Independent Living Programs. Kate received the Robert A. Shuker Memorial Award in 2018. This honor is awarded to former AUSAs of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia who demonstrate a distinguished contribution to the administration of justice. In 2018 the Alexandria City Council appointed Kate to a two year term on the Commission on Persons with Disabilities. Kate is a volunteer tutor at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, and a member of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court.

Amy Richardson

Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

Amy Richardson is a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, where she serves as Chair of the Legal Ethics and Malpractice group. Ms. Richardson practices in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina. She focuses her practice on legal ethics and malpractice, complex civil litigation and government enforcement actions.

Ms. Richardson counsels and represents lawyers and law firms in disciplinary investigations and prosecutions and malpractice matters. Ms. Richardson’s disciplinary experience includes matters before the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). She counsels and advises lawyers and law firms in partner admissions and departures, and law firm dissolutions. Richardson has taught ethics and professional responsibility at the Georgetown University Law Center and at Duke University School of Law.

Ms. Richardson handles complex civil cases in federal court, state court, and in arbitration proceedings throughout the United States. She is experienced at handling matters through all stages of litigation. Ms. Richardson works closely with the firm’s telecommunications practice in cases involving the communications-technology industry, including Telephone Consumer Protection Act, intercarrier compensation and access fee disputes.

Ms. Richardson has successfully represented companies before federal and state regulatory agencies and Offices of Inspector General. Ms. Richardson’s extensive white-collar criminal defense experience includes preparing clients for grand jury appearances and trial work. Ms. Richardson successfully represented one of the defendants in U.S. v. Price, Zaborsky & Ward, a high-profile obstruction of justice case in the District of Columbia Superior Court. At the conclusion of the two-month trial, the defendant was found not guilty. Ms. Richardson also assists clients in identifying, complying with and discovering noncompliance with complex and evolving federal regulatory requirements.

Ms. Richardson has received Chambers USA‘s top ranking for white collar crime and government investigations lawyers in North Carolina. She also has been ranked among Business North Carolina magazine’s “Legal Elite.” Ms. Richardson serves as Vice Chair of the Wake County Commission for Women, as Ethics Chair for the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Council and Co-Chair of the FCBA Professional Responsibility Committee. She is also a co-founder of the North Carolina Compliance Association, an organization for compliance professionals that focuses on networking, information sharing, and educating members about current compliance issues and regulations.

Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Richardson served a judicial clerkship for the Honorable. N. Carlton Tilley, Middle District of North Carolina. Ms. Richardson received her J.D., cum laude, from Duke University School of Law, and her B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of North Carolina.

Daniel Decederfelt Adams

Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP

Daniel Adams represents individuals, small businesses, and large corporations facing white-collar criminal prosecution, government investigations, and complex business litigation. Having litigated for years in New York, Daniel brings significant trial experience to bear when confronting clients' most pressing legal challenges.

Daniel represents individual and corporate clients facing white-collar criminal prosecution in state and federal court, as well as regulatory investigations pursued by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, IRS, Environmental Protection Agency, North Carolina Attorney General's Office, and other enforcement bodies. Formerly a New York public defender and attorney at a prominent global law firm, he has experience defending clients against claims of securities fraud, bank fraud, accounting fraud, real estate fraud, government contract fraud, health care fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, criminal tax evasion, environmental crimes, bribery, political corruption, and other forms of financial mismanagement.

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