Attorney Conflicts of Interest: Identifying and Resolving Ethical Pitfalls

Strategies to Minimize the Risk of Ethics Violations and Malpractice Claims

Barger & Wolen partner David J. McMahon will be a faculty member for this Strafford Publications' CLE webinar which will provide attorneys with a framework to identify the most problematic and difficult-to-detect conflicts risks. The panel will outline best practices for attorneys to cope with conflicts that could potentially result in disqualification, discipline and malpractice.


Conflicts of interest are one of the most common ethical dilemmas for attorneys. Whether the situation involves a personal conflict, a multi-client conflict, or a third-party conflict, practitioners must identity situations or transactions that pose potential conflicts of interest.

Conflict issues that arise when attorneys change firms are particularly relevant in the current environment. The ABA's Formal Opinion 09-455 addresses situations in which revealing a client’s identity and description of work performed may itself violate client confidence.

While many conflicts can be resolved with client consent, an effective waiver depends on the nature of the conflict, the timing of the waiver request, and whether the client is a current or former client. Conflicts can also be anticipated and addressed in engagement letters.

Listen as our authoritative panel of attorneys discusses how to identify potential conflicts issues and outlines best practices for avoiding or resolving those conflicts.


  1. Identifying sources for potential conflicts of interest
    1. Defining the client
    2. Defining the adversity that triggers conflict rules
    3. Adverse client conflict — direct adversity or adverse representation
    4. Joint representation — dual or concurrent representation
    5. Adversity to former clients
    6. Personal conflicts of interest
  2. Conflict resolution
    1. Withdrawal from representation
    2. Client consent
    3. Conflict waivers
    4. Engagement letters
    5. Law firm conflicts checks


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are some best practices for law firm conflict avoidance procedures?
  • Under what circumstances will a conflict prevent representation?
  • How can engagement letters effectively limit potential conflicts?
  • What critical language should be included in a conflicts waiver document?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.

Joining Mr. McMahon on the faculty are Brett A. Scher, Partner, Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo, Woodbury, N.Y. and Thomas B. Mason, Partne, Zuckerman Spaeder, Washington, D.C.