Avoid These Common Conflicts of Interest for Lawyers

Raffi Kodikian

October 25, 2021

Raffi Kodikian: Avoid These Common Conflicts of Interest for Lawyers

Certain client relationships can cause unethical conflicts for lawyers leading to professional suits, says Raffi Kodikian.

 In some cases, representing two clients presents a conflict of interest. Lawyers can get into legal trouble if they represent a client where a previous bias or relationship causes a lesser service. Raffi Kodikian is the Vice President at Founders Professional and provides professional liability coverage for lawyers. His recommendations include following professional protocol to reduce the risk of a lawsuit.

According to Raffi Kodikian, lawyers can accidentally take on cases where they cannot fully represent both parties. The most common examples of conflicts of interest include:

Differing Interests – An attorney cannot represent two parties that are at odds in a case. This means a lawyer could face a conflict of interest in a divorce case if representing both parties. This could also be a conflict, Kodikian says, if trying to represent both parties in a civil lawsuit.

Personal Conflicts – When a lawyer has a specific relationship with a client, it could be considered a conflict of interest. For example, forming a romantic attachment to a client that forms after a case is started could cause a personal conflict.

Current or Former Client Conflicts – Certain relationships become complex if the firm also represents other clients with similar but competing interests. Lawyers have to make sure their new relationships are not going to cause a conflict with a past or current client. Bringing on the wrong client could cause a failure to fulfill the duty of loyalty to your clients, Kodikian says.

Third-Party Conflicts – Practice cannot be influenced by a third party or representation to the client will be biased. Third-party examples include representing an employee while an employer is paying the fees during a workplace case. Another example of a third-party conflict could include parents footing the bill for their child’s representation. The person paying the bill cannot get special privileges, information or cause biased guidance that isn’t in the client’s best interest.

Raffi Kodikian has nearly two decades of experience with lawyers facing professional liability lawsuits opened by disgruntled clients. He recommends lawyers understand and avoid conflicts of interest to lower the chances of facing suits themselves. He also says professionals need to get full coverage that will protect them in the case of a misunderstanding, error or accident.

“Lawyers face unhappy clients all the time,” says Raffi Kodikian. “In some cases, these frustrations are founded on truly impaired representation. When a conflict of interest causes low-quality representation, lawyers open themselves up to a serious liability case. Lawyers must know the rules, but equally important they have coverage in case a mistake is made. There are plenty of malpractice lawsuits that occur due to ignorance or a lack of knowledge.”