Conflicts of interest should be a constant concern of every lawyer. Unfortunately, this is an area where many lawyers are complacent. The practical consequences of a conflict can include legal malpractice damages, disqualification, forfeiture or disgorgement of fees, and discipline by The State Bar of California. Most conflicts can be cured by effective disclosure and consent. Often, however, the conflict is not even recognized or the written conflict waiver does not meet the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
I bring nearly three decades of experience in assisting legal professionals with matters of conflicts and disqualifications, I do not stand for any kind of conflict of interest in my practice, and I am proud to be able to settle any legal matters involving conflicts and disqualification.
What Kinds Of Conflicts To Look Out For
Joint representation conflicts occur when a lawyer represents more than one client in a matter at the same time. The Rules of Professional Conduct do not distinguish between potential conflicts and actual conflicts. Jointly represented clients are always potentially in conflict and joint representation requires written disclosure of all circumstances and reasonably foreseeable adverse consequences to the clients and the clients' written consent.
Successive representation conflicts occur when a lawyer represents a client in a matter where the lawyer previously represented a client and received confidential information that is material to the current representation.
If a lawyer enters into a business transaction with a client or acquires a security interest adverse to the client, the Rules of Professional Conduct require that the transaction be fair and reasonable, that the terms of the transaction be disclosed in writing to the client in a language the client understands, and the client is given written notice of his or her right to have the transaction reviewed by independent counsel and that the client approves the transaction in writing.
Lawyers are required to provide written disclosure to clients of existing or previous relationships with those who might have an interest in the representation.
Prompt Action Now Can Prevent Big Problems Down The Road
The conflict rules are complicated and dependent on case law. Just reading the rules may not be enough. I provide an analysis of potential conflicts and assistance in drafting effective conflict waivers. I also offer consultation and representation on remedies, including disqualification.