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That is, it is largely regulated by lawyers and judges themselves rather than by the government or outside agencies.In particular, the American Bar Association (ABA), the largest professional association for attorneys, governs the Practice of Law through its establishment of rules of conduct.Select a topic, or scroll down to view the entire FAQ: Q. If these conditions are satisfied, a lawyer may simultaneously represent clients notwithstanding a conflict only if “each affected client gives informed consent confirmed in writing.” Rule 1.7(b)(4). Rule 1.8 provides an additional caveat for attorneys involved in representing multiple clients simultaneously. City 2009-6 (before binding multiple clients to an aggregate settlement, a lawyer has a nonwaivable obligation to obtain the informed consent of every affected client). 2005) (holding that an attorney has an affirmative obligation to disclose and explain a conflict and to obtain consent). City 2001-2 (“A client represented by other counsel or in house counsel in connection with the waiver may more readily comprehend the possible effects on loyalty and confidentiality of the simultaneous adverse representation. When may a lawyer represent a client with interests adverse to those of a former client? Successive representation is permitted when there is no conflict between the interests of the former and current clients (under Rule 1.9) or when written waiver of the conflict has been obtained. State 829 (oral waivers obtained before April 1, 2009 need not subsequently be confirmed in writing). The comments to Rule 1.9 explain that “[m]atters are substantially related” if they involve the same transaction or legal dispute or if, under the circumstances, a reasonable lawyer would conclude that there is otherwise a substantial risk that confidential factual information that would normally have been obtained in the prior representation would materially advance the client’s position in the subsequent matter. The comments further note that the passage of time may be relevant in determining whether matters are substantially related, as “[i]nformation acquired in a prior representation may have been rendered obsolete.” Id. relevant to the matter in question” will generally preclude representation, while “general knowledge of the client’s policies and practices” will not. A third consideration is whether the former client’s “interests are materially adverse” to those of the prospective client. Rule 1.10(a) ([w]hile lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by Rule . This confirmation can take one of several forms under the rules: (i) a writing from the person to the lawyer confirming that the person has given consent, (ii) a writing that the lawyer promptly transmits to the person confirming the person’s oral consent, or (iii) a statement by the person made on the record of any proceeding before a tribunal. A “writing” under the rules denotes a “tangible or electronic record of a communication” and broadly includes “handwriting, typewriting, printing photocopying, photography, audio or video recording and email.” Rule 1.0(x). Rule 1.9(b) provides that where “a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented” the former client and "the lawyer had acquired” confidential information, as specified in Rule 1.6 and Rule 1.9(c), discussed supra, the lawyer may not engage in a subsequent “substantially related” and “materially adverse” representation unless the former client “gives informed consent confirmed in writing.” Moreover, where the newly-associated lawyer is barred from the representation, the lawyer's firm is too. In that connection, a number of courts and ethics opinions have found that prior to withdrawal for nonpayment of fees, a lawyer first must ask the client to honor her payment obligations and warn the client that the lawyer will withdraw unless the fees are paid.

(Rule 1.0(e)) Differing Interests “Differing interests" includes every interest that will adversely affect either the judgment or the loyalty of a lawyer to a client, whether it be a conflicting, inconsistent, diverse, or other interest. Multiple representation can therefore cause serious hardship to one or more clients if a lawyer is forced to withdraw after having performed significant legal services. Prior representation, “Substantially related” and “materially adverse” In some instances, there may be a threshold question of whether there has been a prior representation, i.e., whether the attorney “formerly represented” a person as a client in an earlier matter. (Emphasis added.) “Confidential information,” as defined by Rule 1.6, is not limited exclusively to privileged information, but rather consists of information gained during or relating to the representation of a client, whatever its source, that is (a) protected by the attorney-client privilege, (b) likely to be embarrassing or detrimental to the client if disclosed, or (c) information that the client has requested to be kept confidential. Even after bills are settled, may a lawyer refuse the client access to portions of the file? The exercise of retaining liens has been approved as an ethical matter, but their precise contours are questions of law, not ethical command. (5) the client deliberately disregards an agreement or obligation to the lawyer as to expenses or fees.

(Rule 1.0(f)) Reasonable or Reasonably “Reasonable” or “reasonably,” when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer, denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer. (The same is true for unforeseeable conflicts "thrust upon" an attorney, through no fault of the lawyer, in the course of representing two or more clients. City 2005-5.)Before representing multiple clients with actual or potentially conflicting interests, a lawyer must adequately explain to each client the implications of the common representation and otherwise provide information sufficient to permit each client to appreciate the significance of the potential conflict and its possible effect on the attorney’s ability to exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of the clients. use confidential information of the former client protected by Rule 1.6 to the disadvantage of the former client, except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a current client or when the information has become generally known. The client is presumptively afforded full access to the attorney’s entire file, with narrow exceptions. Rule 1.16(c)(5) provides: Except as stated in paragraph (d), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client when .

Since 1908, the ABA has been responsible for defining the standards of proper conduct for the legal profession.

These standards, many of them established by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, are continuously evolving as society and the practice of law change over time.

Disciplinary action by a state bar association or other authority may include private reprimands; public censure; suspension of the ability to practice law; and, most severe of all, disbarment—permanent denial of the ability to practice law in that jurisdiction.

The state supreme court is the final arbiter in questions of professional conduct in most jurisdictions.

A review of the inquiries made to the Committee’s Ethics Hotline has shown that certain legal ethics questions occur more often than others. 6, 2009) (finding no conflict under 1.9 where no attorney-client relationship was formed in the prior, allegedly substantially related matter). Y.2d 123 (1989) (holding that interests of acquired corporation were materially adverse to interests of selling shareholder in a post-sale dispute regarding the corporation's pre-sale environmental compliance).

Accordingly, the Committee has prepared a set of answers to frequently asked questions for the general edification of the Bar. the representation will involve the lawyer in representing differing interests.” Rule 1.7(a)(1). In World Hill, the court denied a disqualification motion based on an alleged prior representation, holding that “[i]t is well settled that ‘[t]o determine whether an attorney-client relationship exists, a court must consider the parties’ actions. There is no prohibition or restriction on successive adverse representations involving unrelated matters or related matters where the interests of the former and current clients are not materially adverse.

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