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As a well-known politician said, ‘Trust but verify’

Loyalty to a client is an essential element of the attorney-client relationship. This relationship binds them through ‘thick and thin’ and against all other persons with conflicting interests. Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:07 and the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility Rule 1.7 state that an attorney cannot continue to represent two or more clients at once when the interests of the clients would raise conflict issues. According to one Massachusetts case, clients need to be informed of the “full significance of any common representation”. Therefore, an attorney must approach every new prospective client relationship with a policy of full disclosure as to any potential conflicts of interests that might arise from representation. This means that the attorney must be wary of past and present clients whose interests may be adverse to those of future clients. Furthermore, S.J.C. Rule 3:07 and MR 1.7, Comment 2 state that if a conflict arises after representation has already been undertaken, the lawyer should withdraw from the representation.

 

Loyalty to clients and to the legal system as a whole are perhaps the most valued traits in a good lawyer’s possession.

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