Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Law Firm Conflicts News & Updates

Eric Mosca of InOutsource, provider of information and records management consulting, recently published an overview essay in a recent ILTA white paper: "A Conflicts of Interest Primer" --
  • "Researching and evaluating potential conflicts of interest is a core aspect of every law firm’s business operations. Many firms struggle to adhere to rules in different U.S. and international jurisdictions."
  • "Pressure on attorneys to open matters quickly and meet billable hour quotas can also be in direct contrast to the careful analysis that some potential conflicts of interest require."
  • "Many clients are intimately aware of how conflicts of interest impact their outside counsel. Outside counsel guidelines are often provided to law firms detailing how conflicts of interest will be addressed, among a variety of other topics."
An interesting conflicts story from Australia: "Lawyer ordered off Sayers tax team" --
  • "A senior lawyer working with prestigious law firm Clifford Chance has been forced off the legal team defending mining contractors Ron Sayers and Peter Bartlett against tax fraud charges. Supreme Court judge Eric Heenan yesterday ruled the lawyer should immediately quit the case after the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions office (DPP) outlined the practitioner's former work for the investigation that led to the two men being charged."
  • "Prosecutors went to court last month asking for the lawyer to be ousted after Clifford Chance continued to allow the practitioner to work on the case."
In this story, as later reported:
  • "The DPP claimed the lawyer had access to protected material and gave confidential legal advice for ACC's Operation Hardcastle, having been the DPP case officer from March 2007 to February 2008."
  • "As opposed to quietly switching the prosecutor to other work, Clifford Chance demanded the aggrieved prosecution agency detail what particular information the lawyer had become aware of in her old job and why it was contended to be confidential. And she was seen attending court hearings with the Sayers-Bartlett defence team, liaised with her former DPP colleagues about bail for the accused men and instructed Clifford Chance partner Ben Luscombe, the partner overseeing the defence team, on a suppression order application."
  • "The judge said no allegation of suggestion of actual impropriety or breach of confidence had been put forward by the prosecution and the proceedings had been initiated entirely as a protective measure."

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