Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On Business Conflicts (And Avoiding Them)



Eric Mosca of InOutsource has an excellent article in the latest ILTA white paper: "The Business of Avoiding Business Conflicts" --
  • "Law firms have always been cognizant of the business conflicts that can arise when taking   on new work. Business conflicts can be described as relationships or knowledge which, while not violating professional responsibility rules, can affect a lawyer’s or law firm’s ability to be a zealous advocate for a client."
  • "Such conflicts of interest might include working with two clients in the same industry or starting a relationship with a new client that wants to confirm counsel is not averse to any of their affiliated entities. Conflicts identified too late in the game can cause difficulties, but working together within the firm, communicating with clients and utilizing the benefits of technology can help lawyers and firms maintain a legal space free of business conflicts."
  • "Business conflicts (and other issues) can arise from differing perspectives on who or what is 'the client.' Absent  clear  engagement  documentation,  a  potential client might assume their chosen counsel will represent all of the organization’s corporate affiliates and  corporate officers, or an individual might interpret their interests as represented when the lawyer’s obligation is to a corporate entity. There are myriad examples detailing discrepancies between the expectations of the client and counsel. It is increasingly common for clients to document these expectations within outside counsel guidelines."
  • "Technology and automation solutions are being employed to assist in the assessment of business conflicts — a necessity in sizable law firms to manage the volume of potential business conflicts."
  • "Business conflicts can present as much of a hurdle to taking on new engagements as traditional conflicts of interest, yet the rules outlining business conflicts are undefined and often based on assumptions. Lawyers and administrators armed with accurate data and the proper technology to analyze and communicate potential business conflicts are at a significant advantage."

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