Bar Counsel Notes: Conflict of Interest
Attorney served as "Lawyer for the Day" in a local District Court. One of the clients she met with was a 3rd offense OUI. The purpose of Attorney's limited representation (see MRPC 1.2(d)) was only to try to have that client make bail. Attorney consults with client and client tells Attorney she really needs to get out of jail because her angry/difficult husband will harm her pets and destroy her personal property. Client gave other details about husband's conduct that did not then appear relevant. One week later, client's husband contacts Attorney to commence a divorce action against his wife, that same "for the day" client. Is there a conflict from such limited representation of that client/wife re her OUI?
Yes - under MRPC 1.2(d) and by incorporation, 1.9, these facts cause Attorney to fall into conflicts that apply in such a limited representation matter and prohibit her from taking the husband's divorce case.
*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.