Ethics Opinion 102
Opinion #102 – 05/02/1969 (8-69)
adverse interests, confidences, conflict of interests, employment, legal services, matrimonial matters, partnership, representation
Topic: Conflict of Interests
Digest: A legal Aid Society formerly representing a wife in a matrimonial is now requested to represent the husband
Canon: Former Canon 6
May a Legal Aid Society who has been consulted by a wife with regard to a divorce and has been given advice, now be engaged by the husband who wishes to obtain the divorce no longer sought by the wife?
The question involves Canon 6 which states in part that:”The obligation to represent the client with undivided fidelity and not to divulge his secrets or confidences forbids also the subsequent acceptance of retainers or employment from others in matters adversely affecting any interest of the client with respect to which confidence has been reposed.”We understand that in operation of a Legal Aid Society, it is common for the Society not only to bring an action but also to defend matters in the name of “The Legal Aid Society of …”, and for the attorneys employed by the Society to have access to the legal files of the Society. Accordingly, the organization is operated and viewed by the public in the nature of a legal partnership.Accordingly, it is our opinion the principles applicable to present and former partners and associates of law partnership apply to Legal Aid societies and that such societies should not represent conflicting interests.