Paralegals and Conflicts of interest

Paralegals and Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest is a very serious subject for snapattorneys and paralegals. Some paralegals believe that the subject of conflicts of interest only applies to the attorneys they work under.  This is a myth and is very misunderstood.  A conflicts of interest can arise for paralegals when they move to different law firms and/or start offering their paralegal skills as a service.

 The American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules 1.7 through 1.10 addresses conflicts of interest.  To simplify it, a conflict of interest refers to a situation where someone, such as an attorney has competing professional, personal obligations, or personal or financial interests, that would make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties legitimately and /or properly.

There are four common situations where a conflict of interest may exist:snap (2)

  1. Changing jobs is the most common way a conflict can occur.  If a paralegal works for one law firm retained on a matter, and then changes jobs and works for the law firm representing the opposing party on the same matter, a conflict exists.
  2. If a close friend or family member is a party in a legal matter.
  3. If the paralegal is involved in an organization or business outside the office that is a party to a legal matter.
  4. If the paralegal, or anyone related to or close friends with the paralegal, has a financial interest in the outcome of the matter.

Paralegals working on a matter are obligated to inform their supervising attorney if any of these situations apply or arise during the course of the matter. Nevertheless, only the supervising attorney can make the decision whether or not an actual conflict exist based on the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules 1.7 through 1.10.

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Holly Sheriff

A Self-Employed Virtual Paralegal, Business Coach, Public Speaker who just so happens to have CP! Dream Big-Believe and Do™ This blog and its writer are not held liable for any content that is republished or used by others. This blog has been edited by Jennifer Dudenhoeffer. Any personal information is made private and cannot be shared by third parties. . This blog is not intended to be legal advice. Further, this blog is the personal opinions of the writer and is not intended to be a legal analysis of any legal topic and should not be used as a substitution of an attorney or legal advice. If you have come to this blog with a specific legal issue or problem, you should seek the advice of a licensed attorney of your own choosing.