Monday, August 6, 2012

Conflicts Between Inside and Outside Counsel

Interesting story from Corporate Counsel: "3M Outside Counsel Suit 'Troublesome' to Many General Counsel" --
  • "An assistant general counsel at St. Paul-based 3M Company has become caught up in a nasty legal fight between the company and its one-time outside counsel, Covington & Burling."
  • "3M didn’t realize it had a problem, Brewer said, until Covington started doing discovery in the state suit and was deposing the same in-house counsel that it once represented on the same issues. 'It’s a very disturbing case for in-house lawyers,' Brewer [Partner representing 3M] said."
  • "3M assistant general counsel David Overstreet was especially involved when Covington used him to, in Brewer’s words, 'orchestrate the situation where they thought they could pursue a large economic opportunity with the state.'"
  • "The suit alleges that Covington communicated with the state in November 2010 about the possibility of serving as the special attorney against 3M—while still representing 3M at the time, and well before Safra wrote his December completion letter or obtained Overstreet’s email."
  • "Not true, insisted Covington in a brief [PDF] filed over the disqualification motion in the environmental suit. Covington’s brief called 3M’s claims 'inflammatory and unsubstantiated accusations.'"
There's more to this fight, including accusations over an unusual matter closing process and opinions from legal ethicists. See the complete article for details.

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