California legal authorities – the state’s Supreme Court, State Bar and other regulators – harbor no ambiguity when it comes to making determinations concerning whose interests are paramount in any attorney-client interaction.
It is simply a bedrock expectation grounded in legal precedent and time-honored practice that a lawyer representing a client in any matter must be free of personal taint that could harm the client’s interests.
We put it this way on our pro-clients’ website at the long-established Los Angeles law firm of Glickman & Glickman: “It is considered legal malpractice when a lawyer puts his or her interests above the needs of his or her clients.”
That’s simple enough, right? A potentially dangerous line is immediately crossed in any case where legal counsel has – even remotely – personal interests that are at odds with those of a retained client. It is inherently the case in such a matter that reasonable suspicion attaches to a lawyer’s case strategy, client communications and related matters.
How do you know as a client relying in good faith upon legal counsel that he or she is conflict-free and fully able to act in a manner that unstintingly promotes your best interests?
You might not know. After all, many clients reasonably lack knowledge that their legal counsel also bears a professional responsibility to an adverse client in the same case. Perhaps your lawyer has a personal interest adverse to yours in the very matter in which he or she is representing you. Maybe other lawyers in your counsel’s firm are working on behalf of clients with interests that oppose yours.
The possibilities for troublesome conflict to exist are many and varied. Persons with concerns that competent representation might be undermined in their case owing to an attorney’s conflict can consult with proven legal malpractice attorneys at a firm that focuses exclusively on clients’ best interests.