Let’s start here: the government begins a grand jury investigation of an organization, say a political campaign. Certain campaign employees receive grand jury subpoenas to testify in front of the grand jury. Other employees receive “target letters” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, informing them that they are targets of a grand jury investigation. Based on the potential criminal exposure of each witness and target, the campaign’s counsel decides who needs individual counsel and who can be jointly represented. A team of defense lawyers is assembled. The lawyers meet to discuss the case and enter into a joint defense agreement (JDA).

What is a JDA? What protections does it provide to its members? What Rules of Professional Conduct govern it? How is the JDA affected by the subsequent cooperation of one of its members? And what did Rudy Guiliani mean when he said that he, as President Donald Trump’s lawyer, had a JDA with Paul Manafort and Jerome Corsi? Once again, the Mueller investigation gives us an opportunity to discuss the intersection of white-collar crime and the ethics rules that guide our professional lives.

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