Ethics Opinion 102

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #102 – 05/02/1969 (8-69)

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

QUESTION

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?

OPINION

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.

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