Ethics Opinion 097

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #97 – 01/30/1969 (1-69)

Topic:  Conflict of interest
Digest:  May an attorney represent creditor and bankrupt
Canon:  Former Canon 6

QUESTION

May an attorney who represents a creditor also represent the same creditor’s debtor in a bankruptcy proceeding?

OPINION

It is the opinion of the Committee that it would be improper for an attorney to represent both the claimant and the bankrupt in the same proceeding.Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics states that “It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.’This Canon does not sanction representation of conflicting interest in every case where consent is given. (Drinker on Ethics, page 120, N.Y. State Nos. 38 and 74.)As is indicated in Canon 6 “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.”Ethics committees have repeatedly forbidden attorneys to represent adverse parties. In a bankruptcy proceeding the interest of the creditor and the bankrupt are adverse.  Hence it would be improper for the same attorney to represent both of these parties. (ABA 60, 177, ABA Inf. 930, Drinker on Ethics, page 112.)

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