Thursday, January 17, 2013

Disqualification News

"Contract Attorney's Conflict Not Grounds for Disqualification" --
  • "A contract attorney for a plaintiff’s firm who had previously represented the defendant in the same case was not “associated” with her new employer such that her conflict could be imputed to the entire firm and disqualify it from the representation. Brown v. Florida Dep’t of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles."
  • "'[N]ot every lawyer who is paid by a law firm to do work of a legal nature is ‘associated’ with the firm,' the court explained. 'An attorney to whom work is outsourced . . . ordinarily is not an associate.'"
  • "Reviewing the totality of the circumstances, the court explained that no one factor would be determinative in any case. Here, the attorney worked from home and was paid by the hour to help draft pleadings and briefs as needed. She set her own schedule. There was no expectation that she would have client contact or responsibility for any cases."
  • "In its analysis, the court acknowledged that relationships like the one at issue here are becoming more common. “[A]n increasing number of attorneys provide legal service in nontraditional settings. A rigid system that prevented the practice would serve little purpose,” reasoned the court."
  • "Though not discussed in Brown, another issue attorneys should consider is their public image. 'Conflicts rules are not just about confidential information; a big part of the conflicts rules are loyalty issues and the perception of loyalty by clients,' says Flowers. 'As lawyers we have to continue to be very aware from a professionalism perspective that we face some unflattering stereotypes and we have to be very careful that our actions don’t perpetuate those stereotypes. With regard to conflicts, it is very important that the public doesn’t think that we say one thing today and another thing tomorrow.'"
"Motion to disqualify law firm fails" -- Walker Digital, LLC v. Axis Communications, Inc. and On-Net Surveillance Systems, Inc., Civil Action No. 11-cv-558-RGA, November 21, 2012. --
  • "An attorney representing one of the defendants previously had served as patent counsel for the plaintiff and prosecuted patents while employed by Morgan & Finnegan. He did not work on any of the patents-in-suit or any of plaintiff’s patents directed to video surveillance technology, which is at issue in the current lawsuit. The court considered whether the current suit is the same or substantially related to any of the work performed by this attorney on behalf of the plaintiff well more than a decade ago and concluded it is not. Since there is no reasonable basis to disqualify this attorney it follows that there is no reason for his law firm to have screened him from the current representation."

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