What is conflict of interest?

There are many ways an attorney may be liable for legal malpractice in California. One that you may have heard of is when there is a conflict of interest. According to The Balance, a conflict of interest is when your attorney has competing interests in your case. It can help to look at some examples.

If you are getting a divorce and your attorney represents you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, there is a conflict. Your attorney cannot properly represent either of you because he or she is representing the other person, too. The attorney has something to gain in both cases. A clearer example might be if your attorney is part owner in a company you are suing for product liability. Here, it is obvious how your attorney would be conflicted. If he or she works hard to win the case for you, he or she will lose out in the company. 

It is clear a conflict of interest means your attorney cannot do an adequate job of representing you. Under the Code of Professional Responsibility from the American Bar Association, attorneys are bound to avoid conflicts of interest and to be ethical in their representation of clients. This means your attorney should notify you as soon as he or she discovers a conflict and recuse his or herself from your case. While this means you will have to get a new attorney, it is what is best for everyone involved. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.