People choose to hire attorneys for a ride range of reasons. Whether the intention behind hiring an attorney relates to a potential divorce or the formation of a business, clients of attorneys place a lot of trust in the legal knowledge of the lawyers they work with.
In the vast majority of cases, an attorney will do their best to promote the interests of their clients and live up to their duty to the people who hire them. Unfortunately, in any field of work, there are typically a few bad apples who are more than happy to spoil things.
Some people are attracted to legal work because of the potential for income or power, rather than the desire to help their clients navigate a complex system. These attorneys may be particularly susceptible to a severe conflict of interest that affects their clients. If you believe that a conflict of interest impacted the performance of an attorney in a recent legal matter, you should explore your concerns thoroughly.
Your attorney has an obligation to put your interests first
Consulting with someone for serious legal matters involves a lot of trust. You may disclose information that you would never share it with your peers, family or co-workers. That means that you must place a lot of trust in their ability to maintain attorney-client privilege.
You may rely on their advice when making major life decisions, for everything from your marriage to your real estate purchases. In cases involving criminal matters, your attorney may have control over whether or not you retain your freedom.
Given the critical importance of the matters that attorneys handle, they have a professional obligation to work in the best interest of their clients. Failing to do so may be a form of legal malpractice. Conflicts of interest are a common source of issues with attorneys and their clients that can lead to malpractice claims.
How to identify a potential conflict of interest
There are many different kinds of conflicts of interest. The most common is likely a personal conflict of interest. These situations involve an attorney using their authority and position to influence clients in a manner that will benefit them financially.
Perhaps an attorney encourages a client to purchase a property knowing that they will benefit from the sale in some way. Maybe the lawyer suggests investing in a particular business or otherwise provides business advice tainted by their ownership interest with another company. The attorney that you work with should only benefit financially from your relationship through the money you pay them directly. They should not influence your decisions in a manner that will generate profit for them at your expense.
Client conflicts of interest are also common. These might occur when an attorney chooses to represent two clients simultaneously who have conflicting needs. Choosing to represent both sides in an issue, for example, is a conflict of interest.
When an attorney chooses to prioritize the interests of their own finances, their career or another client over you, that could be legal malpractice. You deserve to work with a legal professional who puts your needs first. In situations where an attorney conflict of interest has had negative repercussions for a client, it may be possible to seek compensation through a legal malpractice claim.