In some cases when there is a conflict of interest, it’s very clear that the lawyer in question is not working with their client’s best interests in mind. There’s a direct adverse impact on the case.
For instance, maybe you’re trying to sue a specific corporation. Your lawyer takes the case and then you find out that they are on the Board of Directors with the company that you’re trying to sue. Clearly, they’re not going to give you fair representation and you have almost no chance of winning your case.
But the American Bar Association is quick to point out that there are also situations with “no direct adverseness,” but there can still be a conflict of interest.
How could this occur?
The problem is that the lawyer may be less effective because they can’t consider the situation openly, without being influenced by the conflict of interest. This will also reduce their ability to recommend the right course of action or to carry that out on the client’s behalf. Their ability to do so is said to be “materially limited” because of the other interests that the lawyer has.
In other words, even if your lawyer doesn’t directly take action to ensure that you lose your case, you have to question the effectiveness of their counsel just because the conflict of interest exists at all. It may appear that they tried to act in your best interests anyway, but you can’t guarantee that that was actually the case. Their outlook is inherently tainted by the conflict of interest and they cannot give you the type of service that you deserve.
If you do find yourself in a situation like this, it’s quite important to know about all of your legal options.