NUMBER 395 APRIL 1951
Question. Al is an attorney representing A; Bob is an attorney representing B; Carl is an attorney representing C.
a sues B and C. Bob and Carl, as attorneys for the defendants, work together on the defense. While the case is pending, Al, the plaintiff’s attorney, and Bob become law partners. Bob, when questioned by Carl, assures him that the case will be discontinued. A year or so later. Al and Bob dissolve the partnership. Bob begins an action against C arising out of a different set of facts. Al represents Bob. Notices of trial are filed in both actions and both actions are pending.
The position of C: He is being sued by Bob, who is the attorney for his codefendant B in the first action, and who was the partner of Al, who represents the plaintiff in the first action as well as the plaintiff in the second action,
- After the partnership of Al and Bob was formed, was it ethical for Al to continue representing the plaintiff A and for Bob to continue representing the defendant B?
- If such continuation was unethical, did the dissolution of the partnership of Al and Bob remedy the situation?
- In the light of the conflicts arising out of Action 1, is it unethical for Al to represent Bob in his action against C?
Answer. 1. After Al and Bob became partners it was not ethical for them as a firm or individually to represent both plaintiff and defendant. While this question is now moot, its answer is necessary to a consideration of the second question.
- After the dissolution of the partnership between Al and Bob, it was still unethical for Al to represent A or Bob to represent B. By reason of the partnership a confidential relationship had come into existence not only between A and Al and between B and Bob, but also between A and Bob and between B and Al. Also during the partnership, Al may have been in the position to learn from B or his papers originally in Bob’s possession, of matters which C or Carl may have confided to B in the interests of mutual defense.
- The Committee thinks as respects the third question that there is nothing unprofessional in the representation of Bob by Al in the wholly new case which Bob individually seems to have begun against C.