February 22, 2010
Imputed Conflicts And Contract Attorneys
An ethics opinion issued this month by the Legal Ethics Committee of the District of Columbia Bar is summarized below:
The imputation of a temporary contract lawyer’s individual conflicts to a hiring firm under D.C. Rule 1.10 depends on the nature and extent of the lawyer’s relationship with the firm and the extent of the temporary lawyer’s access to the firm’s confidential client information. A temporary contract lawyer who works with the same firm sporadically on a few different projects, or on a single project for a longer period of time, would not be “associated with” the hiring firm if the firm does not have or otherwise create the impression that the temporary contract lawyer has a continuing relationship with the firm, and the firm institutes appropriate safeguards to ensure that the temporary contract lawyer does not have access to the firm’s confidential client information except for the specific matter or matters on which he is working.
In addition, the temporary contract lawyer and the hiring firm must protect the confidentiality of all client information, and the firm must take appropriate steps to avoid obtaining the confidences and secrets the temporary contract lawyer learned during his former employment.
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