Why It Matters
We hear the term thrown around a lot, but what is a conflict of interest anyway? In this context it's a situation that arises when a lawyer is faced with offering legal advice to multiple parties that are somehow interconnected and often opposing. Or the lawyer's own interests might enter into the mix. Interests might refer to financial effects, material impact on a case, a negative effect on the duties owed to a client, or a host of other concerns.
Conflict of interest evaluations can expose these connections and they aren't a formulaic excuse to stall cases - they're dictated by law and require serious consideration. That's why here at Calkins Law Firm we will always fully investigate whether a new case or client would present a conflict, well before we ever agree to act as their representative.
Some folks aren't happy with us for doing this, but we want to clear the air on this point: we carry out these conflict of interest investigations for everyone's sake. They serve our clients' interests because ensuring that there's no conflict voids the possibility that we would get involved in their case only to later be forced to withdraw, potentially causing harm. We are also upholding the honor of our profession, building trust in the legal system, and acting in the best interests of all current and prospective clients. Plus, we're upholding the law.
These claims could sound grandiose or overblown to the client who just wants to get their case underway and doesn't care for the amount of time or effort we dedicate to our mandatory conflict checks. But we'd respectfully ask for their patience. We do our best to cut down on the delay, using various modern, technology-based methods. But sometimes uncovering hidden conflicts will take time. Those are just the facts of the matter.
From time to time we will be approached by multiple clients and are asked to represent both or all of them. We will accept on the basis that no conflict of interest exists between or among them. So before we agree to take on any new matter we do a detailed, thorough conflict search. If a conflict exists we will decline the representation. It really is that simple. We cannot and will not represent multiple parties with conflicting interests.
What if a conflict of interest doesn't currently exist, but there's a possibility that one might later develop? In that case we will often accept the representation but only with the full agreement by all parties that should a conflict materialize, we will be obligated to resign and cease representing them. We know this isn't ideal in clients' minds, but we wholeheartedly appreciate their cooperation, knowing that this is best for everyone involved.
Legal Help and Your Best Interests
At Calkins Law Firm we value each and every client. We also know the importance of a good reputation. So we will always take great pains to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, including conflicts of interest. Careful conflict checking is truly in the best interest of all concerned. Besides that, these are our professional rules and obligations and we take them very seriously. So if you're looking to work with a legal team that operates from a responsible and careful perspective, reach out and learn how Calkins Law Firm can help.