ETHICS QUESTION OF THE MONTH
This content is generated by the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and is for informational purposes only. Look for the reasoning behind the answers at legalethicstexas.com.
Lawyer A worked at Firm XYZ. Firm XYZ represented
Company Z in numerous litigation and transactional matters. While at
Firm XYZ, Lawyer A worked on several of Company Z’s employment
Lawyer A then left Firm XYZ and moved to Firm JKL. Firm JKL represents clients who are adverse to Company Z in breach-of-contract cases. Firm JKL wants Lawyer A to be available to represent clients against Company Z, but, for the moment, it is content to have Lawyer A doing other litigation.
Firm XYZ knows that Firm JKL is adverse to its client, Company Z, and that Lawyer A has joined Firm JKL. Firm XYZ asserts a conflict and objects to Firm JKL being adverse to Company Z because Lawyer A has joined Firm JKL.
Which of these statements is the most accurate?
A. Firm JKL has a conflict in being adverse to Company Z because Lawyer A is a member of Firm JKL and is Company Z’s former attorney.
B. Firm JKL would have a conflict in being adverse to Company Z, but Firm XYZ didn’t timely object when it learned that Lawyer A was joining Firm JKL.
C. Firm JKL has a potential conflict, which can be cured by screening Lawyer A from any representation adverse to Company XYZ.
D. Screening Lawyer A from Company Z won’t cure the conflict because the screen was not in place before Lawyer A arrived at Firm JKL; otherwise it would have worked.
E. Firm JKL has no conflict arising from Lawyer A being adverse to Company Z in breach-of-contract cases because they are not substantially related to the employment litigation cases where Lawyer A represented Company Z while at Firm XYZ.
The answer is E. For the reasoning behind the answer, go to legalethicstexas.com.TBJ
ABOUT THE CENTER
The Texas Center for Legal Ethics was created by three former chief justices of the Supreme Court of Texas to educate lawyers about ethics and professionalism. Lawyers can access the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, and a variety of other online ethics resources by computer or smart device at legalethicstexas.com.
The information contained in Ethics Question of the Month is intended to illustrate an ethics issue of general interest in the Texas legal community; it is not intended to provide ethics advice that applies regardless of particular facts. For specific legal ethics advice, readers are urged to consult the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (including the official comments) and other authorities and/or a qualified legal ethics adviser.