Rule 1.10 Successive Government and Private Employment

(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally or substantially as a public officer or employee, unless the appropriate government agency consents after consultation.

(b) No lawyer in a firm with which a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter unless:

(1) the lawyer subject to paragraph (a) is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and

(2) written notice is given with reasonable promptness to the appropriate government agency.

(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer having information that the lawyer knows or should know is confidential government information about a person or other legal entity acquired when the lawyer was a public officer or employee may not represent a private client whose interests are adverse to that person or legal entity.

(d) After learning that a lawyer in the firm is subject to paragraph (c) with respect to a particular matter, a firm may undertake or continue representation in that matter only if that disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.

(e) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer serving as a public officer or employee shall not:

(1) Participate in a matter involving a private client when the lawyer had represented that client in the same matter while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless under applicable law no one is, or by lawful delegation may be, authorized to act in the lawyer's stead in the matter; or

(2) Negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially.

(f) As used in this Rule, the term "matter" does not include regulation-making or rule-making proceedings or assignments, but includes:

(1) Any adjudicatory proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other similar, particular transaction involving a specific party or parties; and

(2) any other action or transaction covered by the conflict of interest rules of the appropriate government agency.

(g) As used in this Rule, the term "confidential government information" means information which has been obtained under governmental authority and which, at the time this rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law from disclosing to the public or has a legal privilege not to disclose, and which is not otherwise available to the public.

(h) As used in this Rule, "Private Client" includes not only a private party but also a governmental agency if the lawyer is not a public officer or employee of that agency.

(i) A lawyer who serves as a public officer or employee of one body politic after having served as a public officer of another body politic shall comply with paragraphs (a) and (c) as if the second body politic were a private client and with paragraph (e) as if the first body politic were a private client.


Comment - Rule 1.10

1. This Rule prevents a lawyer from exploiting public office for the advantage of a private client.

2. A lawyer licensed or specially admitted in Texas and representing a government agency is subject to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, including the prohibition against representing adverse interests stated in Rule 1.06 and the protection afforded former clients in Rule 1.09. In addition, such a lawyer is subject to this Rule and to statutes and government regulations regarding conflict of interest. Such statutes and regulations may circumscribe the extent to which the government agency may give consent under paragraph (a) of this Rule.

3. Where a public agency and a private client are represented in succession by a lawyer, the risk exists that power or discretion vested in public authority might be used for the special benefit of the private client. A lawyer should not be in a position where benefit to a private client might affect performance of the lawyer's professional function on behalf of public authority. Also, unfair advantage could accrue to the private client by reason of access to confidential government information about the client's adversary obtainable only through the lawyer's government service. However, the rules governing lawyers presently or formerly employed by a government agency should not be so restrictive as to inhibit transfer of employment to and from the government. The government has a legitimate need to attract qualified lawyers as well as to maintain high ethical standards. The provisions for screening and waiver are necessary to avoid imposing too severe a deterrent against entering public service. Although "screening" is not defined, the screening provisions contemplate that the screened lawyer has not furnished and will not furnish other lawyers with information relating to the matter, will not have access to the files pertaining to the matter, and will not participate in any way as a lawyer or adviser in the matter.

4. When the client of a lawyer in private practice is an agency of one government, that agency is a private client for purposes of this Rule. See paragraph (h). If the lawyer thereafter becomes an officer or employee of an agency of another government, as when a lawyer represents a city and subsequently is employed by a federal agency, the lawyer is subject to paragraph (e). A lawyer who has been a public officer or employee of one body politic and who becomes a public officer or employee of another body politic is subject to paragraphs (a), (c) and (e). See paragraph (i). Thus, paragraph (i) protects a governmental agency without regard to whether the lawyer was or becomes a private practitioner or a public officer or employee.

5. Paragraphs (b)(1) and (d)(1) do not prohibit a lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement. They prohibit directly relating the attorney's compensation to the fee in the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified.

6. Paragraph (b)(2) does not require that a lawyer give notice to the government agency at a time when premature disclosure would injure the client; a requirement for premature disclosure might preclude engagement of the lawyer. Such notice is, however, required to be given as soon as practicable in order that the government agency or affected person will have a reasonable opportunity to ascertain compliance with Rule 1.10 and to take appropriate action if necessary.

7. Paragraph (c) operates only when the lawyer in question has actual as opposed to imputed knowledge of the confidential government information.

8. Paragraphs (a) and (e) do not prohibit a lawyer from jointly representing a private party and a government agency when doing so is permitted by Rule 1.06 and is not otherwise prohibited by law.

9. Paragraph (e)(1) does not disqualify other lawyers in the agency with which the lawyer in question has become associated. Although the rule does not require that the lawyer in question be screened from participation in the matter, the sound practice would be to screen the lawyer to the extent feasible. In any event, the lawyer in question must comply with Rule 1.05.

10. As used in paragraph (i), "one body politic" refers to one unit or level of government such as the federal government, a state government, a county, a city or a precinct. The term does not refer to different agencies within the same body politic or unit of government.