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Conflicts of interest: a common issue in legal malpractice claims

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Professional Malpractice

Conflicts of interest often lead to legal malpractice claims. A conflict of interest occurs when a lawyer’s ability to represent a client gets compromised by other responsibilities to another client, a former client, or their own personal interests. This conflict can prevent the attorney from offering unbiased, dedicated representation.

Common scenarios

One common conflict is when a lawyer represents clients with opposing interests. For example, two business partners in a dispute can cause a conflict of interest. Another example is when a lawyer has a personal relationship with someone involved in the case. Lawyers must avoid these conflicts to maintain their professional obligations and avoid malpractice claims.

Impact on legal malpractice

When conflicts of interest exist, the quality of legal representation often suffers. The attorney might make decisions that benefit one client over another. Or they might focus on their interests, leading to poor outcomes for the affected clients. This breach of duty can result in legal malpractice claims.

Preventing conflicts

Lawyers must conduct thorough checks to identify potential conflicts before taking on new clients. They should maintain clear, detailed records of their clients and previous cases. Open communication with clients about potential conflicts can also help reduce risks.

Client vigilance

Clients should stay vigilant and inquire about any potential conflicts of interest when hiring an attorney. If clients suspect a conflict, they should address it immediately. They may need to seek alternative representation.

Understanding conflicts of interest helps clients recognize potential issues early and take action to protect their interests. Staying informed and proactive can prevent the negative impacts of legal malpractice.