A landlord’s lawyer was instructed to collect rent owing by a former tenant, and at about the same time was retained by the former tenant’s wife, (who had been an employee of the landlord) to represent her in connection with her marital problems with the former tenant. Neither client then knew the whereabouts of the former tenant, but subsequently the lawyer, in the course of his representation of the wife, ascertained from the former tenant his places of residence and employment. May the lawyer use this information in order to serve the former tenant with process in an action for rent, and is it proper in the circumstances for him to continue to represent both the landlord and the wife?
A lawyer is, of course, required to represent his client zealously (EC 7-1) and may not prejudice or damage his client during the course of the professional relationship, DR 7-101(A)(3). He may not undertake to represent two clients if his representation in behalf of one of them may interfere with his professional obligation to the other. DR 5-105(A); N.Y. County 328 (1934).
Accordingly, the lawyer may use his knowledge of the husband’s address in behalf of the landlord provided its use does not jeopardize the interests of the wife who is also his client. EC 4-5. He should be prepared to step out of the second case in which he was retained if conflicts develop unless the clients consent to his continued representation after full disclosure of the circumstances. DR 5-105(B)(C); EC 5-19.
November 18, 1974.