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Conflict of Interest?

Often, two people are arrested together while engaged in what is perceived as a criminal act by the police.

When they come to see me, they often assume that because two persons were arrested, they will need two separate attorneys to represent them.  Sometimes this is correct but this is not always the case.  In fact, there are many situations where having the same attorney will clearly benefit both defendants.

Rule 4-1.7 addresses what disclosure must be made to the clients in order to represent them both in the same criminal case.

The Rule points out that:

(a) Representing Adverse Interests. A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to the interests of another client, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the lawyer’s responsibilities to and relationship with the other client; and

(2) each client consents after consultation.

(b) Duty to Avoid Limitation on Independent Professional Judgment. A lawyer shall not represent a client if the lawyer’s exercise of independent professional judgment in the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by the lawyer’s own interest, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and

(2) the client consents after consultation.

(c) Explanation to Clients. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.

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