Attorney malpractice occurs when a lawyer fails to provide their client with the standard of care that a reasonable attorney would in a similar situation. One type of attorney malpractice is a conflict of interest, which occurs when a lawyer represents multiple clients in a case and their interests are in opposition to one another. In Ohio, lawyers have a duty to disclose any potential conflicts of interest to their clients and obtain their informed consent before proceeding with representation.
In Ohio, the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct govern the conduct of attorneys. Rule 1.7 of these rules sets forth the rules regarding conflicts of interest. The rule states that a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation would be directly adverse to another client, or if there is a significant risk that the representation would be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person.
A common example of a conflict of interest is when an attorney represents both parties in a divorce case. This would be a clear violation of Rule 1.7, as the interests of each party are clearly adverse to one another. In this case, the attorney would be unable to provide the best representation to either party and would be in violation of their duty to their clients.
Another example of a conflict of interest is when an attorney represents a client in a personal injury case and later finds out that they also represented the opposing party in a previous case. This would be a violation of Rule 1.9, which states that a lawyer shall not represent a client in a matter in which the lawyer has previously represented another client in a substantially related matter. In this case, the attorney would be in possession of confidential information from the previous representation that could be used against the current client.
Conflict of Interest
In Ohio, when a lawyer discovers a potential conflict of interest, they are required to disclose the conflict to their client and obtain their informed consent before proceeding with representation. The lawyer must also provide the client with a written explanation of the potential conflict and the associated risks. This allows the client to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the representation or to seek another attorney.
If a lawyer fails to disclose a conflict of interest and proceeds with representation, they may be liable for attorney malpractice. This could result in the lawyer being held liable for any damages suffered by the client as a result of the conflict. Additionally, the lawyer may be subject to disciplinary action by the Ohio Supreme Court, which has the authority to revoke or suspend a lawyer’s license to practice law.
In conclusion, attorney malpractice based on conflict of interest is a serious issue in Ohio. Lawyers have a duty to disclose any potential conflicts of interest to their clients and obtain their informed consent before proceeding with representation. Failure to do so could result in liability for attorney malpractice and disciplinary action by the Ohio Supreme Court. It is important for clients to be aware of their rights and to understand the potential risks associated with representation by an attorney with a conflict of interest. If a client is concerned about a potential conflict of interest, they should seek the advice of another attorney.