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In re Sofaer

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
728 A.2d 625 (1999)


While serving as legal adviser in the United States State Department, Abraham Sofaer (defendant) took part in the department’s investigation of the 1988 bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Scotland. As part of Sofaer’s work, he advised on the government’s response to Pan Am’s subpoena theorizing that the government had advance warning of the bombing but did nothing to stop it. Sofaer also attended confidential briefings on the status of the criminal investigation related to the bombing. Subsequently, Sofaer left the department for a private law firm. The Libyan government hired Sofaer and his new law firm to represent it in connection with litigation arising from the bombing. The District of Columbia Board of Professional Responsibility (plaintiff) opened an investigation into Sofaer’s conduct and charged Sofaer with violating District of Columbia Rule of Professional Conduct 1.11(a), which prohibited an attorney from working on the same matter he or she had previously worked on for the government. The Board of Professional Responsibility directed bar counsel to formally admonish Sofaer. Sofaer appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Farrell, J.)

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