Q. How can I be sure no conflicts of interest exist or will arise?

By using a careful screening process and limiting access to firm files unrelated to the project contracted for, both the hiring firm and the contract lawyer can assure themselves that conflicts of interest will not occur. 

(1)  I keep careful computerized records of all former and present clients.  Before I accept an assignment, I will ask for the names of:

  • (a) the parties involved,
  • (b) opposing counsel, and
  • (c) any known potential parties. 

(2)  I will decline any assignment that is:

  • (a) adverse to the interests of a present client in any matter, or
  • (b) adverse to the interests of a former client in the same or a substantially related matter. 

(3)  I do not consider a "present client" to have become a "former client" until the conclusion of the legal matter for which I was contracted to work.

By following the screening process outlined above, any conflicts of interest and imputed disqualification* can be avoided without difficulty


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*Most states have not addressed the issue of imputed qualification as it relates to contract lawyers, either through formal opinions or case law.  Much of the American Bar Association's Formal Opinion 88-356 concerns the factual analysis appropriate for determining whether a temporary or contract lawyer is "associated with" a firm for purposes of the imputed disqualification rule (ABA Model Rule 1.10).   

In Kentucky, the state supreme court has adopted verbatim substantial portions of ABA Formal Opinion 88-356 in its advisory opinion in Oliver v. Board of Governors, Kentucky Bar Ass'n, 779 SW 2d 212, 217 (Ky. 1989).  See the Oliver opinion here.  Although Oliver primarily concerns "temporary lawyers" who work through placement agencies (rather than independent contractors), the Oliver court's analysis makes clear that following a careful screening process will allow contract attorneys and hiring firms to avoid imputed disqualification without difficulty.


George Schuhmann, Attorney-at-Law -- 3107 Lowell Avenue, Louisville, KY  40205 -- (502) 439-3766

Disclaimer: Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship.

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