Search Site
Menu
Attorney Conflicts of Interest

Today, Your Legal Corner will discuss “Attorney Conflicts of Interest.”

In a powerful scene from the movie Godfather, Michael Corleone tells his brother Fredo, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again-ever.” Loyalty to ones’ family is a central theme in the Godfather and part of what makes this movie so popular even today.

No man can serve two masters. While loyalty is a quality we look for in friends as well as family, it is just as important in hiring a lawyer. Does your attorney have relationships that impact his or her ability to provide their undivided loyalty to your case? It is important to know the rules before deciding whether this is the right person to advocate on your behalf.

Rules of Professional Conduct

All lawyers are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Under these rules, attorneys are required to have undivided loyalty to their clients. Even if not requested by the client, an attorney has an affirmative duty to identify all conflicts of interest. This responsibility continues throughout the attorney-client relationship.

What is a conflict?

A conflict is where the interests of one party or entity interfere with the ability of a lawyer to offer objective representation to his or her client. It could be not only the interests of a current client but also a former client or a personal interest of the attorney. In each situation, the attorney is deemed to have a concurrent conflict of interest.

When such a conflict exists, the attorney is required to disclose this information to his or her client. The attorney should not just disclose whether a conflict exists but also the facts and circumstances surrounding the conflict as well. For example, if the attorney has represented the opposing side in another matter or is related to the judge hearing your case, either or both may be considered a conflict. If a lawyer fails to disclose the existence of a conflict, it could be considered malpractice and subject the lawyer to a legal claim.

What is Informed Consent?

Does the existence of a conflict of interest mean that attorney cannot represent you? No. As the client, you decide whether you want the attorney to represent you anyway. The agreement in which a client decides to waive a conflict is called informed consent.

The Rules of Professional Conduct define informed consent as an agreement by a client to a proposed course of representation after full disclosure and consultation with the attorney. If a potential conflict exists with current clients as in creating a will for a husband and wife, both must give informed consent to representation. This agreement must detail the advantages and risks of common representation by the same attorney.

Importantly, in order for the attorney to represent both parties he must reasonably believe he will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client. The representation cannot be prohibited by law and cannot involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client.

Ultimately, the decision lies with the client to determine whether to continue being represented by an attorney with a conflict or to seek a new attorney.

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will discuss “Negotiations.”

Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.

Send questions, or comments to [email protected] Or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice. Check out more YLC articles here.

Speak to a proven New Jersey attorney now
Call 856.238.5183 or click to schedule your free consultation
  • By Renee Zagarella

    "Wonderful, knowledgeable, kind, and informative! Within days following my free consultation, I was provided with an overview of my appointment with helpful information about my case. I truly appreciate the recommendation I was given at this firm."

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
  • By Anita Campana

    "I was so very impressed with Hoffman DiMuzio from the moment I walked in. Everyone I had come across was so professional and courteous."

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
  • By Anita Campana

    "I mostly saw Peter who got the best possible results for my case. He was extremely knowledgeable and informative. Jodi was always available to answer my questions if Peter was busy and kept me informed. I would recommend this firm to anyone!"

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
  • By Mike W

    "Hoffman DiMuzio is a top notch firm. Their attorneys and staff are extremely knowledgeable and go above and beyond for you. I recommend them to everyone in need of legal service."

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
  • By Harry McCormick

    When my significant other was falsely accused of committing a crime, there was only one place to turn. that place was hoffman dimuzio.

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
  • By Harry McCormick

    "Joe Hoffman Jr took on our case and fought tooth and nail for us. Exposing the truth and serving justice for us, we felt completely vindicated. For any legal matter, criminal, traffic or otherwise, they gained two very satisfied life long customers! Thank you Mr Hoffman!"

    SEE ALL REVIEWS
Joseph J.  Hoffman, Jr. Attorney Photo
Joseph J. Hoffman, Jr.
Senior Partner

For more than 40 years, Mr. Hoffman has protected the interest of his clients through diligence and hard work on legal matters, both large and small. An honors graduate of Rutgers University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. Hoffman has won numerous accolades for excellence in the practice of law.

Kenneth A. DiMuzio, Sr. Attorney Photo
Kenneth A. DiMuzio, Sr.
Senior Partner

An attorney with over 45 years of professional experience, Mr. DiMuzio concentrates his practice on personal injury and workers’ compensation matters. A graduate of Georgetown University Law School and a native of Gloucester County, Mr. DiMuzio has been honored time and again for his professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.

Ernest L.  Alvino, Jr. Attorney Photo
Ernest L. Alvino, Jr.
Attorney

About Ernest L. Alvino, Jr. concentrates his practice in the area of workplace injuries; construction accidents; product injuries; trucking accidents; auto injuries; medical negligence and crime victim advocacy. Ernie is a lifelong Gloucester County resident, living in Mullica Hill with his wife and children. Ernie worked his way through school as a Teamster and construction…

Jeremiah J. Atkins Attorney Photo
Jeremiah J. Atkins
Attorney

About Mr. Atkins joined the firm of Hoffman DiMuzio in February 2010. Mr. Atkins represents individuals and corporate clients in commercial and employment litigation. Mr. Atkins’ practice covers a wide variety of employment-related matters before New Jersey State and Federal courts, with a focus on discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, family leave and whistleblowing claims. Mr.…

Peter J. Bonfiglio, III Attorney Photo
Peter J. Bonfiglio, III
Attorney

About Mr. Bonfiglio concentrates his practice in the area of municipal court with an emphasis on defense of individuals charged with driving while intoxicated and/or refusal to submit to a breath test. Pete resides in Gloucester Township, Camden County with his wife and two of his three children.  In addition to his law practice, he…

  • Imagine... One law firm, for life.


    New Jersey attorneys for all legal matters

    For all life's stages. For all South Jersey.

Six convenient locations


We'll meet at the office nearest you

  • Franklinville
  • Turnersville
  • Mullica Hill
  • Woodbury
  • Sewell
  • Philadelphia
Take action now by filling out the form below

Submitting this form does not create an attorney-client relationship, but a lawyer from our firm will contact you as soon as possible.

Quick Contact Form