The right of a party to be represented in litigation by the attorney of its choice is significant, and disqualification of that attorney won’t be required just because that attorney has represented the opposing party in the past. Rather, there must be a violation or threatened violation of an ethical rule.
With attorney movement on the rise between firms, it’s critical that attorneys and firms pay close attention to conflicts of interest that can come up when attorneys in practice for years are integrated into new firms. When a conflict is identified, firms can use ethical walls to prevent breaches of fiduciary duties and big hits to the firm, including disgorgement of attorney fees, malpractice claims, and loss of clients.
A global law firm recently embarrassed itself by not doing a simple conflicts check. As Joe Patrice in his blog post for Above the Law explains, Dentons’ attorneys shot off a letter demanding a retraction from CNN for a story on possible ethics issues with Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, before a “simple conflict check” revealed that Dentons also represents CNN. You can do better than that. Create a conflicts check system and use it.