Say in theory you had to go against your grandma, mother, father, or sibling in a court case… would you be able to? Even if they were in the wrongs with the law, would you feel any form of remorse, guilt, or a conscious to stop yourself from incriminating them?
You could, in theory, but even with a subliminal action, many would feel it were unfair to the parameters of law and the proceedings of the case. This is a loose idea, but before a law firm or a lawyer makes any lateral moves, it is imperative that they have conflict checks, not only with individuals whom they know, but whom they have defended in the past.
Many legal professionals should already be aware of the need to avoid conflict of interests, and this is a primary reason why Law Firms conflict-check every new hire. If the new hire had a conflict that were to prohibit the entire firm from representing a client- that new hire could go through a screening, which can cure some, but not all imputed; or the common route is the attorney would be disqualified along with the Law Firm from the case. The necessary steps around a conflict of interest is difficult, so in general failing to run the conflict-check is a risky proposition for both the lawyer and law firm. Lateral hires pose a great problem for conflict, especially now that the legal market is changing and mobile.
So, what clearly defines a conflict of interest?
- Gaining confidential information about a client through the internal processes, system, and litigation strategy through prior representation.
- If the lawyer’s actions on behalf of one client will limit the lawyer’s effectiveness in representing another client in a different, even separate case.
- Dropping an offending (lesser of two) client to cure a conflict.
Basically, if the client was yours previously, there is no exception- even if you paid him $10 for some attorney client privileges.