Regardless of whether you are a lawyer, judge, or paralegal, have you kept a list of every case on which you have worked? Does it include all the parties or only your client?
Christine Simmons recently posted an interesting article in the New York Law Journal in which the Court disqualified a White Plains attorney’s representation of his client. The attorney’s paralegal had, in the past, been involved with the opposing party. For this reason, the Court ruled to vacate the settlement due to tainted negotiations.
So back to my original question – when you were hired, did anyone ask you to look at the firm’s active client list to determine whether you had a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t this especially be the case if your practice is limited to only one or two specific areas of law where you often get repeat business from your clients?
Often, when a firm signs on a new client, it will run a conflict check through its database. It likely also sends an email to all the attorneys asking whether any have a conflict with this particular client. Are support staff and/or the IT Department included in this inquiry? Shouldn’t they if they will have access to the file or any communication with the client, regardless of what role they play in the preparation of the case?
Although every legal professional, lawyer and paralegal, are aware of their ethical obligation to confidentiality and conflicts of interest, how many of us have a complete list of every client and/or parties in each case we have ever worked? Should we? -CCE
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