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Attorney-Client Relationship Conflict of Interest

Feb 12, 2019 | Civil Litigation

Oftentimes, when we think of the relationship between an attorney and their client, we simply assume that there are little to no complications as the relationship ought to be fairly straightforward. It is a professional relationship that confers with it a certain amount of trust and loyalty.

California Attorney-Client Relationship

In other words, the client and the lawyer have entered into an understanding in which they have agreed to work together for a particular dispute, issue, or case.

As a result of this agreement, whatever is in the client’s best interest becomes the lawyer’s objective responsibility to determine, advise, and inform throughout the entirety of their client-lawyer relationship.

Can a California Lawyers Represents Two Clients at Same Time With Opposing Interests?

Since the client’s best interest becomes the lawyer’s responsibility, it is that lawyer’s legal duty to do everything in their power to help the client.

As such, it makes sense that a lawyer cannot have two clients at the same time whose interests are not aligned. In other words, there cannot be a conflict of interest between the clients that the lawyer represents, otherwise there may be a high chance that the lawyer will not be able to fulfill their loyalties and legal duties to those clients.

A lawyer is not allowed to misrepresent or conceal the dual representation. Simultaneous conflicts of interest can result from the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third party or from the lawyer’s own interests.

Conflict of Interest Between Attorney-Client Relationship

In the event that a conflict of interest arises between a lawyer and their clients, there are already established rules that the attorney must follow.

Firstly, the lawyer must clearly identify the client or clients that this conflict affects or may affect. Then, he must determine whether or not a conflict of interest does exist as well as whether or not he can still represent the client despite the existence of the conflict by means of written, informed consent.

While it may sound counter-intuitive at first, a lawyer can, in certain circumstances, represent two clients whose interests are not necessarily perfectly aligned–if and only if they both consent to it after being informed of the risks and challenges that may come about due to that representation.

Can a Conflict of Interest Exist Before Attorney-Client Representation is Established?

The complications to the issue of conflict of interest mainly come up due to the fact that a conflict of interest can exist before representation is established, during the client-lawyer relationship, and even potentially after it is over.

The reasons for this vary widely but generally it is always the responsibility of the lawyer or law firm to do their own internal research and determine whether or not it is legal, advisable, and safe to offer up representation of a client. Furthermore, as a general rule it is not favorable nor ideal to be represented by a lawyer or law firm that has a client whose interests do not align with yours.

Can a Attorney Receive Informed Consent of The Involved Clients to Avoid Conflict of Interest?

If the conflict cannot be resolved by means of informed consent of the involved clients, then it is expected that the lawyer withdraw from the representation.

One of the core aspects of being a lawyer is to faithfully represent a client and all of their best interests once the client-lawyer relationship gets established and, as such, if an unresolvable conflict of interest arises, then it is only natural for the lawyer to withdraw from the representation. If he does not, then he cannot faithfully represent his client or clients and that goes contrary to the ethos of the profession.

California Conflict of Interest Lawyer

Our lawyers in Glendale, Los Angeles, CA, at KAASS LAW believe in the integrity that comes with the legal profession and we stand to uphold it at all costs.

We thoroughly search our database to avoid such problems and we work with clients to ensure their needs and interests are always met. In the event that you feel you may have been represented by a lawyer or law firm who failed to inform you of a conflict of interest or who deliberately took on your representation regardless, we encourage you to give us a toll free call at 310-933-5171 to speak to our defense attorneys today.

We will fight to right the wrongs of other malicious firms or lawyer and we stand by our client’s best interests always. At KAASS LAW, we know exactly where our loyalties lie–with our clients.