Understanding a Lawyer's Ethical Obligations: Conflicts of Interest

One important message that we like to tell our clients is that securing representation affords you some level of protection for certain issues. These protections include the duty of confidentiality, attorney-client privilege, and the assurance that your attorney is acting in your best interests.

To ensure that your attorney is acting in your best interests, the Rules of Professional Responsibility dictate how attorneys are to handle conflicts of interests. These rules govern the duties owed to current clients, former clients, conflicts that occur within law firms, and what to do to continue representation when there is a conflict.

Our attorneys ensure that we maintain the highest level of compliance with all rules to ensure that we not only practice law with integrity but to obtain the best result possible for you and your family. If you or your loved one has been injured in a personal injury case in the state of West Virginia, contact Colombo Law today for a risk-free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Duties Owed to Clients

If a lawyer currently represents an individual, or has represented that individual in the past, the Professional Rules of Responsibility will be triggered. Conflict of interest provisions indicate that a lawyer may not represent another individual in the same matter or a matter that is closely related to the other. This protects one attorney from using information that is acquired in one case to the advantage of another client in a different case.

Conflicts of interests apply to all attorneys in a firm. In fact, even if there is a conflict of interest with only one attorney, the conflict will be imputed to all other attorneys in the law firm. Conflicts may also arise in situations where there was not a previous conflict if one firm hires an attorney from a different law practice.

Continuing Representation During Conflicts

In some instances, an attorney may still represent multiple parties, even when there is a clear conflict of interest. In some instances, an attorney is permitted to continue representation of clients in cases where there is a conflict as long as the clients provide informed consent. In other words, an attorney can only represent a client if all parties agree to waive the conflict. The ethical rules require attorneys to follow specific procedures to effectively waive the conflict. This ensures that clients are aware of the conflict and agree to continued representation.

A conflict of interest may arise at any time. When a conflict of interest occurs an attorney must notify you of the conflict and provide you with your appropriate options.

About Colombo Law

Colombo Law assists clients located in and around West Virginia including in Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Kingwood, Grafton, Weston, Philippi, Buckhannon, Elkins, Parkersburg, as well as Monongalia, Marian, Harrison, Preston, Taylor, and Lewis county. If you are unsure of whether you have a personal injury claim or how to proceed with obtaining monetary compensation, let one of our attorneys take the stress away from you. Contact one of our attorneys today.


by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on