September 21, 2009
Complex Conflicts Lead To Suspension
The New Hampshire Supreme Court imposed a two-year suspension of an attorney who was found to have engaged in a complex series of conflicts of interest the attorney had represented a client in connection with disputes involving the client's mother. The lawyer advised and represented the client in establishing a conservatorship for himself and also represented the conservator after the dispute with the client's mother was resolved, in part, through creation of conservatorship for the client. The designated conservator was "a close personal friend of the respondent and the chief executive officer of a former corporate client of respondent's firm." The attorney continue to represnt both during the course of substantial disagreements between them. The lawyer also undertook to represent conflicting interests in two out-of-state guardianship proceedings, including advising the client's spouse.
The court's decision also includes a rare and useful disccusion of Rule 1.14 (client under disability) in a disciplinary context, rejecting the Rule as a justification for the lawyer's actions. The court also rejects the claim that Texas ethics rules governed the situation because the attorney was not admitted in Texas, where guardianship proceedings were brought. (Mike Frisch)
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