When you hire an attorney, you expect him or her to represent your best interests during your case. We all place a lot of trust in our lawyers and may share insider information about our finances, businesses or life circumstances with them. Unfortunately, some attorneys can violate these ethical expectations and may have a conflict of interest which can have repercussions on your case.
Anyone who hires an attorney should know what a conflict of interest is and how these conflicts can result in a legal malpractice claim. By understanding what can qualify as a conflict of interest, you can protect your interests and potentially take legal action against your former lawyer.
What can qualify as malpractice and as a conflict of interest?
Attorneys may be liable for malpractice if they fail to meet the ethical and professional standards of conduct while representing clients and if this failure causes harm to their clients. Only losing a case does not give a person grounds to file a malpractice claim. To commit malpractice, a lawyer must breach a contract or violate the rules of professional conduct during a case, which then injures a client, which then results in a monetary loss for that client.
A conflict of interest is one type of legal malpractice that an attorney can commit. This type of misconduct occurs when an attorney works in opposition to their clients’ best interests. A lawyer may also have a conflict of interest if they use their position to further their self-interests at the expense of their clients.
A few examples of a conflict of interest include:
- Knowingly representing a person who has adverse interests to a client in a similar or related legal matter
- Using insider information gained from a business client to the advantage of that client’s competitors
- Representing a client in litigation when the opposition is related to the attorney through blood or marriage
- Selling the literary or media rights of a story based on privileged information related to a case without a client’s consent
Fighting back against malpractice
These are only a few of the many types of conflicts of interest that an attorney can have when representing clients. You should speak with a knowledgeable legal malpractice attorney if you believe that your lawyer violated the ethical standards of conduct with a potential conflict of interest. A skilled lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your case and determine if a legal malpractice claim may be possible.