LEO: Domestic Relations - Conflict of Interest LE Op. 1189
Domestic Relations - Conflict of Interest - Vicarious
Disqualification: Representing One Adverse to
Former Client of Law Firm.
November 17, 1988
An attorney wishes to know whether it is proper for a law firm to
continue representing a husband in a divorce proceeding when five years
earlier the wife received legal advice from an associate of the same law
firm with regard to a domestic matter and a brief summary of what was
discussed was relayed to the member of the firm now representing the
husband. The wife was billed for her office conference and the associate
subsequently left the law firm.
The Committee opined that it would be improper for the attorney for the
husband to continue to represent the husband in the domestic matter since
it is the same or is substantially related to the matter on which the wife
consulted the law firm previously and since the former client, the wife,
has not consented after full disclosure. Furthermore, DR:5-105(E) would
require the attorney's vicarious disqualification although it was a former
associate who had the attorney/client relationship with the wife.
LE Op. 888 states that it is improper for an attorney to represent a
wife in a domestic matter when nine years prior, the attorney had
conferred with the husband with regard to legal advice concerning a
separation from his wife. [ DR:5-105(D), DR:5-105(E) and LE Op. 888.]
Committee Opinion November 17, 1988