Attorneys have numerous duties to their clients, but one of the most important is to be a zealous advocate on their behalf. This generally means that a Los Angeles attorney needs to do a thorough and complete conflict-of-interest analysis before agreeing to represent someone. If that attorney takes on a client but is more interested in his or her interests, or those of a another client, than the current client, it could be grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
One of the ways that California attorneys check for conflcts of interest is by drafting a report or hiring someone to draft a report that analyzes whether it is appropriate to represent someone on a specific topic. If it is not, the attorney has a duty to inform the client of this. A failure to do so may cause a client harm which, in turn, would be considered malpractice.
The former mayor of an out-of-state town has recently announced that he is not impressed with a report authored on the ability of a law firm to represent the town. While the report’s author acknowledged that there is some conflict of interest in certain situations, there isn’t in others, but the mayor disagrees.
According to the report, one of the attorneys for the law firm had a monetary interest in a piece of property that was subject to a builder remedy lawsuit. The law firm defended the city in the lawsuit and, eventually, another of the law firm’s clients acquired the piece of property in dispute. The mayor has called for the city to contact the state’s attorney ethics body to file a formal complaint.
Source: Independent Press, “Cranford residents dispute attorney conflict-of-interest report,” Frank Mustac, June 20, 2013