Lawyers: Identifying and Preventing Conflicts of Interest - Huntersure

Lawyers: Identifying and Preventing Conflicts of Interest

Posted on: November 1, 2018 by Huntersure LLC.

This blog was originally published on September 12, 2017. It was updated and re-published on November 1, 2018.

Conflicts of interest and ethical rules have the power to limit who lawyers represent. It’s important for legal professionals to not cross the line and make sure they’re keeping their work and their intentions in check before signing a new client that poses a potential risk.

Lawyers need to be diligent about vetting potential clients and also be able to do a full scan of their own intentions to avoid legal matters. If a conflict of interest arises and the attorney is caught in a bad spot, legal action can be brought against them with Lawyer Professional Liability claims. Here are some ways in which lawyers can identify and prevent conflicts of interest.

Adverse Clients

There are times when a potential client seeks legal help from a law firm and poses a conflict of interest right out of the gate. This is the case when the defendant in question is already a client of the lawyer that has been approached in some capacity. An attorney can hurt their client’s interest by adding or not being upfront about the information held because it’s protected under attorney-client privilege.

According to the American Bar Association, clients can be adverse even in non-litigation contexts. In ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.7 covers this scenario, clearly outlining the importance of checking for conflicts before taking on new work and before it’s too late.

Materially Limited Representation

Sometimes, a lawyer cannot represent a client if doing so will limit them materially. Limiting representation will create a conflict and lead to possible ethical and legal issues. For example, if opposing counsel is represented by a lawyer that’s related to a legal professional, this will automatically limit the extent of representation.

Also, if a lawyer is brought in to represent all members of a business partnership, this would limit their abilities because they wouldn’t be able to support just one person’s position.

Training for Lawyers

Legal professionals do go through legal ethics training in their studies, but they’re not given a thorough deep dive into it. While picking up on the surface of conflicts of interest does get through to them, there is still the need to get into the complexities of them.

Law firms can bring in professional trainers on a regular basis to help their staff to better understand real-world conflicts that arise. If your law firm client has the ability to do so, they should look into bolstering education around conflicts of interest at the hands of professionals who can walk lawyers through scenarios and get hands-on perspectives.

About Huntersure

At Huntersure, we are experts in professional liability coverage and the processes used to identify accountability. We aim to protect each component of the business operation with competitive pricing and quality solutions so that you can provide your clients with the most accurate and comprehensive coverage. For more information on our products and services, contact us today at (646) 751-3030.

Posted in: blog Lawyer's professional liability insurance Professional Liability