LEO: Conflict of Interest - County Attorney - LE Op. 1128
Conflict of Interest - County Attorney - Multiple Representation:
Commission Attorney Representing Plaintiff Against Defendant,
Member of Commission.
October 14, 1988
You have advised that a newly appointed member of the County Planning
Commission is the defendant in a lawsuit in which the county attorney
represents the plaintiff. The county attorney is also the attorney for the
Planning Commission. The lawsuit against the newly appointed member
concerns a matter unrelated to his membership on the Planning Commission.
You wish to know whether the county attorney may continue to represent
the plaintiff in the lawsuit wherein the newly appointed member of the
Planning Commission is the defendant, while continuing to represent the
Disciplinary Rule 5-105(B) states: "A lawyer shall not continue multiple
employment if the exercise of his independent professional judgment on
behalf of a client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by his
representation of another client, except to the extent permitted under
DR:5-105(C)." Disciplinary Rule 5-105(C) permits a lawyer to represent
multiple clients "if it is obvious that he can adequately represent the
interest of each and if each consents to the representation after full
disclosure of the possible effect of such representation on the exercise
of his independent professional judgment on behalf of each."
Whether or not the individual members of the Planning Commission are the "
clients" of the county attorney, as opposed to the Planning Commission as
a whole, is a legal question which this Committee has no authority to
answer. If the individual members are the clients of the attorney, then,
in the situation you described, the county attorney would violate DR:5-
105(B) by continuing multiple representation, unless the attorney could
comply with all of the requirements of DR:5-105(C). If the Planning
Commission as a whole is the only client of the county attorney, the
county attorney would have to determine whether continued multiple
employment would adversely affect the exercise of his independent
professional judgment under DR:5-105(B). If the county attorney
concludes that his professional judgment is likely to be adversely
affected under these circumstances then he would have to comply with DR:
5-105(C) in order to continue multiple representation.
Committee Opinion October 14, 1988
See also LE Op. 1393.