A conflict of interest can interfere with an attorney’s ability to provide sound, reasonable and ethical representation to a client. This is a violation of the Code of Ethics and can lead to a disciplinary hearing with the Bar Association. Discipline for violations can be as severe as disbarment in some cases.
Every attorney should understand what constitutes a conflict of interest, especially if you need to defend yourself against a claim.
Conflict between clients
It is a conflict of interest for an attorney to represent clients with conflicting interests. For example, you cannot represent both the defendant and the plaintiff in any case. This also means that you cannot represent a client who is bringing legal action against another of your clients or has any other legal interest in another of your clients.
Conflict for the attorney
In addition to conflicts between clients, conflict for an attorney directly is a serious concern. Whether it’s a material interest in the opposing party of a case or arguing a case that could ultimately have a material effect for another client, even if only in the future, both could be a conflict of interest. Representing a client in subject matter that the attorney has publicly spoken out against may also be a conflict of interest.
Understand the ethical implications of conflict of interest and the situations where such a conflict could arise. The more information you have, the easier it is to make the ethical choice or even build a defense for a Bar Association complaint.