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Did Your Lawyer Have a Conflict of Interest?

Dec 14th, 2015

A series of articles explaining one of the more common legal malpractice claims

Conflicts of interest present some of the most frequent, difficult, and dangerous problems confronting lawyers, ranking as one of 10 most common legal malpractice claims made, according to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability.

The problems are common because lawyers must screen for possible conflicts of interest with every new client. The problems are difficult because the ethics rules are complex and confusing. The problems are dangerous because the public is very aware of self-dealing by lawyers, politicians, and others, and the pain and harm that self-dealing and conflicts of interest have recently caused our country.

People understand loyalty. They also understand when a lawyer has been disloyal. Few accusations will inflame a jury more than the charge that a defendant-lawyer has betrayed his or her client. The charge plays into the public mythology that lawyers are dishonest and avaricious. While the mythology may be just that, when there is credible evidence in a legal malpractice trial that the defendant lawyer was disloyal to the client, the charge will resonate with the jury.

This is the first of a series of articles, based on a chapter from the 2015 edition of Lawyers’ Professional Responsibility in Colorado by attorney Michael T. Mihm, discussing the current law of conflicts of interest as it applies to Colorado lawyers. It draws upon the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct; the former Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, effective through December 31, 2007 (former Colorado Rules or former Colo. RPC); Colorado appellate decisions; ethics opinions; the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct; the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers (Restatement); and other resources.

If you think you have a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer or a law firm, whether in Colorado or another state, contact Michael T. Mihm at (720) 287-7039.