Conflicts of interest are all around us. The politician who takes a large campaign donation from a special interest group. The realtor who pushes a sale to get their commission. The hiring director who insists their relative is the best candidate for a job. You likely know it when you see it. For legal practitioners, however, conflicts of interest work on us in complex ways and recognizing them is not always intuitive.
This poses a serious risk for practitioners, young and old alike. Conflicts are a common ground of claims against lawyers. And the problem is only growing. The legal landscape is more fluid than ever before. Lawyers move between firms with an increased frequency, there is a broadening definition of legal duties and corporate clients are harder to track due to mergers and globalization. These factors add to a greater potential for conflicts.
So how do young lawyers see a conflict of interest when it isn’t always easy to know what they should look for? This article aims to shed some light on a critical area of the legal practice by discussing what a conflict of interest is and providing a basic overview of some common types.