What risks are involved when a lawyer simultaneously represents 2 clients on the same side of litigation?

Client-lawyer relationship (there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person, or by a personal interest of the lawyer. The public defender's office should be considered as a single law firm and staff attorneys cannot represent co-defendants with competing interests unless both give their consent and can count on adequate representation. The Working Group recognized that the issue of conflicts of interest must be considered both from the perspective of the client and the lawyer. Before proceeding to representation in these circumstances, the lawyer must consider whether the lawyer's ability to represent the client will be materially limited by the sexual relationship.

Similarly, an attorney seeking to represent his opponent in a class action usually does not need the consent of an anonymous member of the group the lawyer represents in an unrelated matter. To comply with conflict of interest rules, the lawyer must make clear the lawyer's relationship with the parties involved. When a disinterested lawyer concludes that the client should not accept representation under the circumstances, the lawyer involved cannot duly request such an agreement or provide representation based on the client's consent. The lawyer seeks to resolve potential adverse interests by developing the mutual interests of the parties.

When the lawyer represents more than one client, the issue of consentability must be resolved for each client. Opinion explores the circumstances in which a lawyer who is also a real estate seller can close real estate transactions managed by the real estate company to which he is affiliated. Unforeseeable events, such as changes in corporate affiliations and other organizations or the incorporation or realignment of parties to a dispute, can create conflicts within the framework of representation, such as when a company sued by the lawyer on behalf of a client is bought by another client represented by the lawyer in an unrelated matter. The lawyer must reasonably believe that each client will be able to make appropriately informed decisions during representation and, to that end, the lawyer must consult with each client about the decisions that must be made and the relevant considerations for making them, so that each client can make appropriately informed decisions.

A member of the Attorney General's staff can file against the Department of Human Resources, which is represented by another member of the Attorney General's staff, appeals against adverse Medicaid decisions. Simultaneous representation does not relieve the lawyer from his obligations under Rule 1.4 of the Maine Professional Conduct Regulations to consult with his clients and keep them properly informed so that they can make informed decisions. The opinion examines the circumstances in which it is acceptable for the lawyer who usually represents a property developer to represent the buyer and developer in the closing of a residential real estate transaction. The attorney reasonably believes that they will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;.

The client to whom the representation is directly adverse is likely to feel betrayed, and the resulting harm to the relationship between the client and the lawyer is likely to impair the lawyer's ability to effectively represent the client.

Dawn Launiere
Dawn Launiere

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