Can a legal conflict of interest be overcome?

Conflict of interest is a term that many in Jacksonville may like to throw around, particularly when dealing with legal professionals. The generally accepted opinion on this matter is that anytime your attorney has dealings with both sides of your dispute, or has any special connections or ties to another lawyer or anyone else involved in your case, a conflict of interest exists. While there may an element of truth to that, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is automatically precluded from providing you representation in your case. He or she simply need to follow the correct steps to resolve the conflict.

Those steps have been clearly described in the Rules of Professional Conduct established by the Florida Bar Association. These rules typically prohibit your attorney from representing you if his or her obligations to another client will have a direct impact of your representation. However, he or she can get around this obstacle by ensuring that:

  •          Your representation is not prohibited by law
  •          Your representation does not involve an assertion that presents a position adverse to another client he or she may representing in the same proceedings
  •          He or she ensures both sides that he or she can competently and fairly represent you both

Both you and the other client(s) involved must also give your consent if said attorney is to still provide you both with representation. He or she must also consult with both sides regarding the benefits and risks of common representation.

What if your attorney is married or related to the counsel on the other side of your dispute? He or she can still represent you, again provided that he or she has your consent. 

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