Monday, February 13, 2012

Conflicts Management for Law Firms

Conflicts Checks, A Necessary Pain
Two partners from McKenna Long & Aldridge just published an excellent article about the necessary pain that is law firm conflicts management. They start with full and honest disclosure -- noting that conflicts ranks at the top of the least favorite lawyer pursuits, but remains an important nevertheless:
  • "Other than billing, there is virtually nothing that lawyers dread more than checking, responding to, and resolving potential conflicts of interest…Legal newspapers are replete with articles about motions to disqualify, bar complaints, and legal malpractice claims based on an unidentified or unresolved conflict of interest."
They go on the review different types of conflicts and key considerations for prudent processes to identify, analyze and resolve potential conflicts. Importantly, they note that conflicts management software can help the process, but isn’t a substitute for human intervention and wisdom:
  • "Computers make conflicts screening much easier. But, computers are no substitute in the final conflicts analysis for involving lawyers in the process. Effective conflicts procedures involve both. The key is to make sure that both are looking for the right things."

Googling a Potential Conflict -- Can You Hear Me Now?
“Google is sparring with a law firm it's been using since 2008 after discovering that lawyers there began representing a patent-licensing business that sued the company's Android partners last month.”
  • Google submits that the firm in question represented it 50 patent applications, including 12 specifically related to Android and argues in a filing with the ITC that: "…Pepper Hamilton is accusing its own client of infringement… Pepper Hamilton should not be allowed to continue alleging infringement against the products and interests of its current client."

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