Lawyers’ misconduct toward or with witnesses can lead to disqualification. This misconduct includes (but is not limited to) providing monetary incentives to witnesses,[1] outright bribing witnesses,[2] or soliciting witnesses to become clients.[3]

[1]     See Erickson v. Newmar Corp., 87 F.3d 298, 302 (9th Cir. 1996) (concluding that defense counsel’s act of hiring one of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses was unethical and prejudicial to the administration of justice because he “entirely circumvented the discovery rules” by gaining unsupervised access to the witness); ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct § 51:1901 (2013) (noting this basis and citing Erickson).

[2]     Clapperton v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. B146397, 2002 WL 399492, at *synopsis (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 15, 2002) (“[D]isqualification of entire law firm, along with firm attorney who committed ethical violations by allegedly attempting to bribe witnesses, was necessary.”).

[3]     Rivera v. Lutheran Med. Ctr., 73 A.D.3d 891, 899 N.Y.S.2d 859 (N.Y. App. Div. 2010) (affirming disqualification because law firm had solicited witnesses for employment in violation of the ethical rules). But see Wells Fargo Bank v. LaSalle Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No. CIV-08-1125-C, 2010 WL 1558554, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Apr. 19, 2010) (disagreeing that solicitation of client’s former employees constituted improper solicitation).

[Source: Keith Swisher, The Practice and Theory of Lawyer Disqualification, 27 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 71 (2014)]