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« Ethics: Attorneys Cannot Sue Current Client For Collection Of Fees Even If Client Waives Conflict With Advice From Independent Counsel | Main | Deadlines: Lemon Law Plaintiff Obtaining Eventual Fee Recovery Loses It For Failing To Meet Three Sets of Deadlines »

December 17, 2015


Christopher L. Blank

I actually find some aspects of the decision difficult to accept. The Appellate Court's basic conclusion is that the Trial Court had the right to disqualify a lawyer/law firm that is suing (has a judgment against) the client based on the lawyer’s conflict of interest. They expressly stop short of saying that the law firm/lawyer had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, but it is based on those rules that they find a conflict. Here are some questions puzzling me.

Would the ruling have been different if the Bleau Fox Firm had hired some other firm to sue the client on their behalf? If the conflict is based on dual simultaneous representation, then hiring a separate firm to pursue the fees obviates that problem. If the conflict is based on the fact that the client owes the firm a debt, what difference does it make if the debt is liquidated by a judgment? Would the court have the power to disqualify an attorney whose client is simply behind on the bill? Can the Court disqualify on those grounds over the objection of the attorney and the client? The conflict is there whether or not there is a lawsuit for the fees. If the judgment makes a difference, is the court saying that a client can never hire a firm to which it owes money when the debt has been reduced to a judgment. Both client and firm might have good reasons for wanting to continue, or restart, the relationship despite the debt. The bottom line here is that a client was deprived of his choice of counsel even though everyone but the court was content with the situation. That troubles me.

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