Schwartz & Ponterio, PLLC holds lawyers responsible for legal malpractice.

Failing to perform a conflicts check: Is it malpractice?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2020 | Legal Malpractice

When you decide that you want to work with an attorney, one of the things you expect is that they will be unbiased. If you have an attorney who is biased because they know people who are involved in the other case or because they are friends or colleagues with the other party, then there could be a significant conflict of interests.

A conflict of interest is not only damaging to your case but also harmful to the justice system on the whole. When an attorney fails to make sure they’re being ethical, it shows a complete disregard for their client and the entire justice process.

There are times when attorneys make mistakes and don’t realize how they know someone in the other party. There are also times when they know that they are familiar with the other party and take the case in order to protect them. Though it happens rarely, failing to check if there are conflicts of interest is a violation of the client’s rights when those conflicts later hurt the case.

It’s important to note that knowing someone isn’t enough to cause a conflict of interest. For example, your attorney, no matter which attorney you have, is likely to know the judge (or a few judges) and the defense or prosecution. They are likely to be familiar with the bailiffs and others who work in the court system. That doesn’t make them biased.

What can make them biased is knowing that the other party is related to their sibling, that they once dated them or that they will make profits if the other party wins the case. Whenever conflicts like that arise, they should recuse themselves or let you know that they can’t take the case from the start.

What happens if you find out that your attorney had a conflict of interests after you lose your case?

If you find out that they have a conflict of interest and you have lost the case, it may be a good idea to talk to a new attorney about the potential for a legal malpractice case and seeking compensation for the loss of your case.