Sunday, January 24, 2016

Industry Conflicts Trends & News (Secondee and Screening Edition)

BNA Bloomberg highlights a fascinating conflicts scenario and decision coming out of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey: "‘Seconded' Lawyer Remained ‘Associated' With Firm Under Rule 1.10" --
  • "A law firm that includes a former in-house counsel of a medical technology company is disqualified from suing the company even though the lawyer was “seconded” to another client of the firm and in that capacity is doing no work on the firm's behalf..."
  • "That lawyer, Ritu Hasan, was 'seconded'—temporarily transferred—to another client of the firm, and in that capacity she 'shall not continue to work on behalf of the firm' during the secondment... The firm argued that Hasan's conflict cannot be imputed to Blank Rome under New Jersey Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10 because during the secondment she is not “associated” with the law firm."
  • "The court saw things differently. Arleo noted that in several ways Blank Rome continues to hold out Hasan as a Blank Rome lawyer, including references to her as such on its website. Therefore, the judge said, Hasan's personal conflict under Rule 1.9 must be imputed to the law firm under Rule 1.10. The firm did not fulfill Rule 1.10's requirements to escape imputation through effective screening, Arleo said."
  • "Blank Rome said the measures it took after Boston Scientific alerted the firm to Hasan's conflict satisfied the requirement in Rule 1.10(c)(2) to ensure that a 'personally disqualified lawyer is timely screened' from a matter. Arleo disagreed. 'To be timely, screening should have been performed at the time of Ms. Hasan's hiring,' she said. The court said it also could not credit Blank Rome's assertion 'that there was a de facto screen because Ms. Hasan was almost never at the firm and did not communicate with firm attorneys about confidential information.'"

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