Bar Counsel Notes: Successive Representation
Lawyer has been court-appointed to represent client B on a criminal assault matter. The victim is lawyer's former client A (unrelated motor vehicle matter twelve years ago) and A and B are not strangers. Is it OK or is it a conflict of interest for Lawyer to handle this assault matter for client B with his former client A as the alleged victim?
M. R. Prof. Conduct 1.9 (former client conflicts) applies here and does not cause any actual conflict to be involved under these particular facts. The same or substantially related matters of representation are not involved. There is also no reasonable likelihood that Lawyer will use any confidences or secrets gained many years ago from his representation of client A to the disadvantage of Client A in his defense of client B's current unrelated matter. Former client A's consent is not required under Rule 1.9. Therefore, Lawyer should not request client A's consent.
*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.