Monday, August 8, 2022
An attorney who negotiated for employment with an opposing party's law firm - without telling his client - has been reprimanded by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers
In 2018, the respondent was retained by the Board of Trustees of a condominium trust (the “Trustees”). The respondent consulted with the Trustees on a variety of matters, including disputes with the condominium Developer (the “Developer”) over alleged construction deficiencies and the parties’ respective liabilities for municipal taxes. The Developer was represented with respect to these disputes in part by a law firm located in Braintree (the “Braintree Firm”).
He filed a civil action for the trustees
During the summer of 2019, while the Superior Court case was ongoing, the respondent and the Braintree firm began discussing the possibility of the respondent becoming employed as an attorney at the Braintree firm. The respondent did not inform the Trustees of these discussions. Also during the summer of 2019, the Trustees and the Developer, though their attorneys, engaged in settlement communications.
The matter settled
On April 1, 2020, the Braintree Firm publicly announced that the respondent had joined the Braintree Firm. The respondent did not inform the Trustees that he had joined the Braintree Firm until April 28, 2020, when he advised the Trustees that he had a conflict of interest. The Trustees were harmed by not being advised of the conflict earlier because they were deprived of the opportunity to secure unconflicted counsel for their disputes with the Developer.
He advised the client that it was a waivable conflict
The Trustees informed the respondent they would agree to waive the conflict and, through September 2020, the respondent continued to advise the Trustees with regard to their ongoing disputes with and potential further litigation against the Developer. In October 2020, after the Trustees obtained new counsel, the respondent withdrew from the representation.