When you hire an attorney, you expect them to offer you appropriate advice and to put your interests ahead of even their own. Unfortunately, not all attorneys fulfill their duty to their clients. Some offer inadequate representation due to a lack of experience or incompetence. Others will fail to disclose a conflict of interest and may give biased advice or poor legal representation as a result.
You may have blamed your lawyer for the outcome of your case for some time before discovering what you believe was likely a serious conflict of interest. What are the more common reasons that an attorney should decline to represent a client due to a conflict of interest?
Another client they already represent
One of the most common conflicts of interest relates to their existing client list. Someone who represents multiple businesses in a certain industry may not give appropriate guidance to someone with a product liability claim related to that industry.
You may have learned that your attorney represents a business related to your situation or even the spouse of the person that you wanted to sue. Such relationships could compromise an attorney’s loyalty to a new client.
A financial interest in a business
Lawyers, like other white-collar professionals, often make numerous investments to diversify their financial resources. If they invested in a particular business or financial fund, their interest in seeing a company succeed could influence how they represent you in court. Learning that your lawyer was a partial owner of the company you wanted to sue or that their spouse works for that business would make you question if they truly gave you the advice and support you deserved.
A personal history with a similar case
Maybe your attorney represented someone in the same situation previously, only to have that client turn around and sue them later. Perhaps they faced censure because of how they handled a previous client’s needs. Your lawyer’s personal history could bias them in how they respond to your needs, which may lead to bad advice.
Realizing that your lawyer failed to advise you that they could not provide you with appropriate representation could give you grounds for a legal malpractice claim that could compensate you for the losses you suffered due to their misconduct.