Have Questions? Contact Us.
Since its inception, NYCLA has been at the forefront of most legal debates in the country. We have provided legal education for more than 40 years.
A, an infant 18 years of age, is operating a motor vehicle belonging to her mother and she has a passenger B, who is her first cousin and who is 19 years of age. There is an extremely close relationship between the families of A and B, They reside in the same house in the winter, and next door to one another at their summer residence. A’s mother is the sister of B’s father.
Both A and B are. of the opinion that the accident was the fault of the operator of the other vehicle, C, Both A and B sustained relatively minor injuries without any extended period of disability. Both A and her mother retained an attorney to represent them in the claim against C, B and her father want the same attorney to represent them.
The attorney advises B and her father that they may have a good claim against A and her mother. B, the 19 year old infant, and her father are educated, intelligent people. Both B and her father state that under no circumstances do they desire to make any claim against their relatives and they would not permit an attorney to make such a claim,
A full disclosure having been made, would it be proper for the attorney to represent A. her mother and B and her father?
Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics reads in part as fo1lows:
It is the duty of a lawyer at the time of retainer to disclose to the client all the circumstances of his relations to the parties, and any interest in or connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of counsel.
It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests except by express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose.
It appears from the question that full and complete disclosure has been made to B and her father by the attorney and that after such disclosure , they both desire the attorney to represent them in the action. Since their consent to representation by counsel has been given, it is our opinion that it is proper for the attorney to represent B and her father. The Committee, however, would like to add a caveat to the effect that this opinion is limited to the precise facts of the question. We have predicated our opinion in a large measure upon the fact that B and her father are educated, intelligent people and thus are able to understand the facts with respect to the problem of conflicting interest. There might well be other situations where the clients did not have sufficient education and understanding to be able to consent to their representation by an attorney who also represented conflicting interests.
Dated: July 27, 1965