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The Varsity Blues Litigation: A Full House of Ethical Conflicts

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 62 minutes
Recorded Date: June 08, 2021
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  • Conflicts Joint Representation husband and wife
  • Conflicts Current Clients
  • Conflicts Former Client
  • Conflicts Dual Representation co-defendants
  • Reporting Misconduct
Runtime: 1 hour, 2 minutes
Recorded: June 8, 2021


The conspiracies to influence admissions decisions at major universities in the United States, colloquially known as the "Varsity Blues" scandal, raised many issues relating to conflicts of interest. Some of the accused entered into joint representation engagements and hired attorneys who also represented some of the universities. One lawyer simultaneously represented a husband and wife as defendants in this criminal proceeding. What are the benefits and risks of joint representation in this context? Another firm represented criminal defendants when it also represented a victim/witness in an unrelated matter. Are these engagements acceptable? When and how can these clients waive conflicts of interest? Our speakers will examine these issues by presenting and analyzing real life and hypothetical scenarios and providing guidance for handling these types of conflicts of interest when they arise.

This program was recorded on June 8th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Jessica Kozlov Davis

ICS Director & Ethics Counsel
Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP

Jessica is a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee, which provides informal and formal opinions to Philadelphia attorneys on a variety of ethics issues. She has participated in a number of continuing legal education programs on ethics as a course planner and panelist, particularly ethical issues related to advertising and social media.

Before joining the firm, Jessica first worked as an attorney in the litigation department of other large law firms. She also taught advanced legal writing as an adjunct professor at Widener Law School.

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Hope A. Comisky

Griesing Law

Hope is a top-ranked employment attorney and an experienced arbiter with over thirty-five years of employment and litigation experience. She counsels clients on employment issues, provides training to managers and staff and offers strategic advice on employment litigation matters. Furthermore, Hope has extensive experience arbitrating and mediating employment and commercial disputes as a member of the American Arbitration Association’s panel of arbitrators, and as appointed under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In addition, Hope is included on the CPR’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals for employment matters. She is also a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a member of its selection committee for the Third Circuit.

Hope has more than a decade of experience providing professional responsibility advice to lawyers and law firms. Hope previously served as the lead professional responsibility attorney and then as General Counsel for a 450 attorney firm for over a decade, where she chaired the Professional Responsibility Committee, providing real-time advice and educational programs to hundreds of attorneys on all aspects of the rules of professional conduct. Hope also provides ethics opinions to lawyers and law firms and conducted training for in-house lawyers.

Hope has been regularly recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers for her work in employment law. Notably, she was named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers for Labor and Employment and Employment Law – Management in Philadelphia. Hope was also recognized as a Labor and Employment Star by Benchmark Litigation.

Hope is also a frequent lecturer and author on employment law and professional responsibility topics. Hope has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, teaching professional responsibility seminars. She has also spoken at the Northeast Regional Employment Law Institute for many years, lecturing on various topics including sexual harassment, defamation in the employment context and tort claims arising from employee terminations. In addition, she has published several articles for the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law.

Before joining the Firm, Hope was a partner at three prominent law firms in Philadelphia, including serving as general counsel at one of her prior firms.

Hope received her B.A. from Cornell University and J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After law school, Hope was a law clerk for the Honorable Joseph L. McGlynn, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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