It is essential to understand that when a lawyer takes on multiple clients, they have a duty of loyalty to each one. As a result, the lawyer is likely to share the information discussed with each client. Attorney-client privilege usually does not apply. No, a lawyer cannot represent opposing parties in litigation.
This is because there may be a situation where a decision in favor of one of the parties will negatively affect the other party. Consideration should be given to the frequency with which such situations may arise, the potential intensity of the conflict, the effect of the lawyer's withdrawal from the case, and the possibility of the corporation obtaining legal advice from another lawyer in such situations. Concurrent conflicts of interest can arise from the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third person, or from the lawyer's own interests. Therefore, under paragraph (b) (), representation is prohibited if, given the circumstances, the lawyer cannot reasonably conclude that they will be able to provide competent and diligent representation.
For example, a lawyer who is asked to represent several people who want to form a joint venture is likely to have limited material capacity to recommend or defend all possible positions that each may adopt because of their duty of loyalty to others. If a dispute arises after the representation has been made, the lawyer must normally withdraw from the case, unless they have obtained the client's informed consent under the terms of paragraph (b). To comply with conflict of interest rules, the lawyer must make clear their relationship with all parties involved. The lawyer must continue to protect the confidentiality of the client from whose representation they have withdrawn.
Similarly, when a lawyer has discussions about possible employment with an opponent of their client, or with a law firm that represents the opponent, such conversations could substantially limit their representation of their client's lawyer. For example, if a lawyer is asked to represent the seller of a company in negotiations with a buyer represented by them, not in the same transaction but in another unrelated matter, they could not assume representation without the informed consent of each client. Even when there is no direct opposition, a conflict of interest exists if there is a significant risk that their ability to consider, recommend, or carry out an appropriate course of action for their client will be materially limited as a result of their other responsibilities or interests. Unforeseeable events, such as changes in corporate affiliations and other organizations or the incorporation or realignment of parties in litigation, can cause conflicts in the middle of representation, such as when a company sued by them on behalf of a client is bought by another client represented by them in an unrelated matter. In certain cases, it may be permissible for lawyers to continue representing multiple clients if they have obtained informed consent from each one.
At the beginning of common representation and as part of obtaining informed consent from each client, lawyers must inform each client that information will be shared and that they will have to withdraw if one decides that any important matter should be hidden from the other. For example, when lawyers represent different clients in related matters and one refuses to consent to disclosure necessary for the other to make an informed decision, they cannot properly ask for consent. A lawyer can be paid from a source other than their client, including another co-client, if they are informed and give their consent and if it does not compromise their duty of loyalty or independent judgment towards their client. Therefore, without consent, lawyers cannot act as counsel in a matter against someone they represent in another matter even when issues are not related at all. It is important for lawyers to understand that when representing multiple clients at once they must take into account potential conflicts of interest and ensure that all parties involved are aware and agree with any information sharing that may occur. Lawyers must also be aware that even when there is no direct opposition between clients they still need to consider whether their ability to provide competent and diligent representation may be limited due to other responsibilities or interests. In conclusion, lawyers must take into account potential conflicts of interest when representing multiple clients at once and ensure that all parties involved are aware and agree with any information sharing that may occur.
Furthermore, lawyers must consider whether their ability to provide competent and diligent representation may be limited due to other responsibilities or interests.