When a person in California seeks legal representation for any type of matter, they should be able to trust that their attorney will always work in their best interests. In fact, the American Bar Association indicates that this trust is part and parcel of a lawyer’s ethical responsibility to each and every client they represent. The guidelines by which legal professionals are held stipulate this exact thing.
The professional code indicates that an attorney must ensure they can provide independent judgment and loyalty to a client. In addition, a lawyer must take active steps to identify any potential conflict of interest and then prevent them.
Per the State Bar of California, one example of a situation that may create conflicts of interest includes the representation of two clients at the same time where the two parties have competing interests. Other situations include responsibilities an attorney may have to a former client that could interfere with the lawyer’s ability to be loyal to the new and current client. Relationships with witnesses could also pose issues depending on the situation. Rules also govern the acceptance of compensation from multiple clients represented by the same attorney.
In some cases, it is not a matter of other persons that create a conflict of interest but the attorney’s own financial, business or otherwise professional involvements and interests. If a potential conflict is detected, the attorney may only ethically and legally proceed with the representation after disclosing the conflict to the client and securing written consent to the representation.