(910) 793-9000
(910) 793-9000
5725-F2 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC 28403

Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Attorneys and Conflicts of Interest

A. Dual Representation:

One of the most common scenarios presenting a conflict of interest which precludes an attorney from representing a client is when a conflict arises due to dual representation. Dual representation occurs when an attorney attempts to represent two clients with conflicting interests in the same legal matter. For instance, a conflict arises if an attorney represents both the plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit, as their duty to advocate for one client may compromise their responsibilities to the other.

B. Prior Representation:

Attorneys may face conflicts of interest if they have previously represented a client in a matter that is substantially related to the current case. This can lead to a situation where the attorney’s access to confidential information from the prior representation might hinder their ability to zealously represent the new client. In such cases, the attorney may be precluded from representing the opposing party to avoid divulging confidential information.

C. Personal or Financial Interests:

An attorney’s personal or financial interests can create significant conflicts, precluding them from representing a client. For instance, if an attorney has a substantial financial stake in the outcome of a case or is related to one of the parties involved, it could compromise their objectivity and impair their ability to provide unbiased counsel.

D. Business Relationships:

Attorneys must be cautious not to represent clients if they have a business relationship with the opposing party or if they are in a position of influence over them. Such relationships could raise questions about the attorney’s independence and loyalty, potentially undermining the client’s trust.

III. Addressing and Avoiding Conflicts of Interest:

To address and avoid conflicts of interest, attorneys often perform comprehensive conflict checks before taking on new clients or cases. This process involves reviewing existing and past client relationships, evaluating any potential conflicts, and determining the appropriateness of representation. If a conflict is identified, attorneys must take appropriate measures to avoid preclusion from representation, which may include the following:

A. Informed Consent:

In some instances, an attorney can represent a client despite a potential conflict if they obtain the informed consent of all affected parties. Informed consent involves disclosing the nature of the conflict and the potential risks to the client, who then provides explicit permission for the attorney to proceed with representation.

B. Refusing Representation:

If a conflict of interest cannot be adequately addressed, the attorney may be required to decline representation. While this may be disappointing for the client, it is essential to maintain ethical standards and prevent harm to both parties involved.

C. Disqualification:

In cases where an attorney becomes aware of a conflict of interest after already representing a client, they may be disqualified from continuing the representation. In such situations, the attorney may need to withdraw from the case to avoid further ethical violations.


Conflict of interest is a vital aspect of legal ethics that attorneys must navigate diligently. By understanding the different scenarios that can lead to conflicts and taking proactive measures to address and avoid them, attorneys can uphold their professional responsibilities and ensure that their clients receive loyal, unbiased, and ethical representation. Maintaining high ethical standards is not only crucial for the legal profession’s integrity but also for building and preserving clients’ trust in the legal system.

By Zachary Canter, Legal Assistant

Comments are closed.