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How an attorney’s conflict of interest can impact your case

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Legal Malpractice

When you hire an attorney to represent your interests, you expect their loyalty to your best interests above all else. Sometimes, their own interests or obligations to others get in the way.

These conflicts of interest can undermine the strength of your case.

Divided loyalties

A conflict of interest arises when a person has competing loyalties or interests that prevent them from acting objectively. For example, say you hire an attorney to represent you in a dispute with their current client. They now have divided loyalties to you and their existing client. This could inhibit them from effectively arguing your case, especially if they do not want to anger their other client. Similarly, attorneys might have personal relationships or financial ties that sway their judgment.

Missed opportunities

Attorneys with conflicts of interest might not raise valuable arguments or objections that could bolster your case. They may decline to put certain witnesses on the stand if it hurts their other interests. This results in missed opportunities to present facts favorable to your position.

Breaches of confidentiality

When you share sensitive information with an attorney, you expect them to keep it confidential. However, conflicts of interest open the door to breaches of confidentiality. An attorney may intentionally or inadvertently share details about your case with an adversary they have ties to. This gives your opponent an unfair advantage, as they gain insider knowledge about your strategy and evidence.

For example, a professional could mention damaging evidence you disclosed, allowing the other party time to prepare a counterargument. Or they may reveal the lowest amount you are willing to settle for, hampering your leverage in negotiations. Confidentiality breaches betray your trust and undermine your position.

When you entrust your case to an attorney, you need to know that you have their commitment. Conflicts of interest throw their judgment into question and leave strong arguments unmade. If you suspect divided loyalties, consider a second opinion for more guidance.