There are many issues that could arise when working with an attorney that will give way to malpractice, but perhaps one of the most well-known is conflict of interest.
According to the American Bar Association, conflict of interest occurs when pre-existing relationships could impact the loyalty and judgment of an attorney to his or her client. For example, an attorney could not represent the person accused of killing his or her best friend because the attorney would likely let his or her feelings impact his or her ability to properly represent the accused.
Recognizing conflict of interest
It is up to your attorney to make sure there is no conflict of interest before taking you on as a client. Your attorney needs to undertake an investigation, which may involve asking you for personal information or other information. If you are aware of a conflict, then you should bring that to your attorney’s attention.
Resolving a Conflict
You may still work with an attorney if there is a conflict of interest as long as you give your written informed consent. You will agree a conflict exists but choose to use the attorney anyway despite that conflict. You lose the right to argue malpractice or to use the conflict in future appeals. Your attorney will have to explain to you what potential impact the conflict could have on your case. You need to completely understand the risks associated with working with an attorney with whom there is a conflict of interest.
Typically, when an attorney discovers a conflict, he or she will let you go as a client and refer you to someone else. This can happen at any time once he or she identifies an issue.