United States District Court
Northern District Of Illinois
LR83.51.11 Successive Government and Private Employment
(a) Except as otherwise expressly permitted by law, a lawyer shall not represent a
private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated
personally and substantially as public officer or employee, unless the
appropriate government agency consents after disclosure. No lawyer in a firm with which
that lawyer is associated and who knows or reasonably should know of the lawyer’s prior participation may undertake or continue representation in such a
(1) the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and
is apportioned no specific share of the fee therefrom; and
(2) written notice is promptly given to the appropriate government agency to
enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.
(b) Except as otherwise permitted by law, a lawyer having information that the
lawyer knows is confidential government information about a person, acquired when
the lawyer was a public officer or employee, may not represent a private client
whose interests are adverse to that person in a matter in which the
information could be used to the material disadvantage of that person. A firm with which
that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the
matter only if the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the
matter and is apportioned no specific share of the fee therefrom.
(c) Except as otherwise expressly permitted by law, a lawyer serving as a public
officer or employee shall not:
(1) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and
substantially 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 lawyer for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating
personally and substantially.
(d) As used in this rule, the term “matter” denotes:
(1) any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other
determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation,
arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties; and
(2) any other matter covered by the conflict of interest rules of the appropriate
(e) As used in this rule, the term “confidential government information” denotes information which has been obtained under governmental authority and
which, at the time this rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law
from revealing to the public or has a legal privilege not to reveal, and which is
not otherwise available to the public.
Committee Comment. This rule prevents a lawyer from exploiting public office for the advantage of
a private client. It is a counterpart of LR83.51.10, which applies to lawyers
moving from one firm to another.
A lawyer representing a government agency, whether employed or specially
retained by the government, is subject to the rules of professional conduct,
including the prohibition against representing adverse interests stated in LR83.51.7
and the protections afforded former clients in LR83.51.9. 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 this rule.
Where the successive clients are a public agency and a private client, the
risk exists that power or discretion vested in public authority might be used for
the special benefit of a private client. A lawyer should not be in a position
where benefit to a private client might affect performance of the lawyer’s professional functions 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 prevent the
disqualification rule from imposing too severe a deterrent against entering public
When the client is an agency of one government, that agency should be treated
as a private client for purposes of this rule if the lawyer thereafter
represents an agency of another government, as when a lawyer represents a city and
subsequently is employed by a federal agency.
Sections (a)(1) and (b) 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.
Subsection (a)(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 will have a reasonable opportunity to ascertain that the
lawyer is complying with this rule and to take appropriate action if it believes the
lawyer is not complying.
Section (b) operates only when the lawyer in question has knowledge of the
information, which means actual knowledge; it does not operate with respect to
information that merely could be imputed to the lawyer.
Sections (a) and (c) do not prohibit a lawyer from jointly representing a
private party and a government agency when doing so is permitted by LR83.51.7 and
is not otherwise prohibited by law.
Section (c) does not disqualify other lawyers in the agency with which the
lawyer in question has become associated.