Dating another attorney at the office
For in-house attorneys wary of imputed conflicts and vicarious disqualification, the best practice is to identify and screen off potential conflicts at the recruiting and hiring stage, and to update conflict checks as new parties become adverse to the corporate client. 4th 525, highlights the conflicts that arise naturally for in-house attorneys when the employee-employer relationship collides with the attorney-client relationship.The California Supreme Court held that union represented county attorneys were not required to resign before filing suit against their employer in a collective bargaining wage dispute.Given the variety of challenges that an in-house attorney might face, it is hard to say that there is an easy fix for all the potential ethical pitfalls out there.An in-house attorney can only exercise his or her best judgment, and avoid the red flags before they ripen into actual problems. O'Hare and Jenny Kim, with Snell & Wilmer LLP Bill O'Hare is the Administrative Partner of the Orange County office of Snell & Wilmer LLP.if the inadvertent disclosure were made by an in-house attorney who was also a corporate officer.The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the rules may change with different forums.
There is no absolute prohibition in California against romantic relationships that were initiated before the legal representation, and unlike the Model Rules, the California rules do not impute romantic conflicts to other lawyers in the firm.
Where there is an organizational client, both the ABA Model Rules and the California Rules of Professional Conduct define the "client" as any person overseeing the corporation's legal matters.
The good news for California lawyers is that the California rules are slightly more lax than the Model Rules in matters of the heart.
Other less hostile, less obvious adversity between the in-house lawyer and her client can trigger disclosure and consent obligations. Better to play it safe, make the required disclosure and obtain the advice of independent counsel. (2004) 94 P.3d 475, illustrates another kind of problem that arises when the in-house attorney wears multiple hats.
Consider the in-house lawyer who negotiates his own employment contract or advises a client on stock options and other employee benefit plans: a lawyer transacting business with a client must make full disclosure, advise the client to obtain independent counsel and obtain written consent. The case involved an inadvertent voice mail: the general counsel/officer of Marvell made a call to Jasmine's lawyer, left a message, tried to hang up, and then proceeded to have a private conversation with another Marvell officer and its in-house counsel. The Court of Appeal allowed Jasmine to use the recording as evidence, holding that any privilege Marvell might have asserted had been waived.
Though Herrera screened himself from the litigation, the California Supreme Court concluded that Herrera's subordinates would not be entirely insulated from their boss's policy decisions or their own concerns about job security. 2011), an associate representing Mattel switched law firms and began working for the firm representing MGA, the adverse party in a copyright and trademark action.