Developing Conflict Check Solution for Law Firms
Software and Process, for Lawyers to avoid conflict of interest
Written by Knowledge Team, posted on June 29, 2020
SOP supported by Technology to empower Lawyers to perform conflict checks on new clients, validated against on demand conflict database
What are Legal Conflict Checks
Conflict checks are the process run by law firms to ensure that their commitment to a client’s cause will not be affected by the commitment of the firm towards some other client. Usually such conflict checks are run at the time when the client–attorney relationship is established.
CONSISTENT CONFLICT CHECKS ARE CRITICAL
In a Law Firm, understanding and appreciating the significance of conflicts is critical. Before commencing the client – attorney relationship, it is important to identify and resolve conflicts. Undoubtedly, conflicts check process in law firms can prevent a mountain of legal problems and financial problems that may occur if conflict checking is ignored. The foremost key to being consistent is making the conflicts process as easy as possible. The easier and faster, the more likely it is for every lawyer to run conflict checks on their every representation.
When Conflicts of Interest Arises
Conflicts of interest can occur in several circumstances including the below
- When a lawyer simultaneously represents two clients with adverse interests.
- When a lawyer successively represents a current client with adverse interests to a former client.
- When an attorney receives confidential information outside an attorney-client relationship concerning a party who is adverse to the attorney’s current client in a particular matter.
- When a lawyer’s relationship with one of his clients is adverse to his relationship with a person or entity where there is an expectation that the attorney owes a duty of fidelity to the latter.
The ABA Model Rules
The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct created by the American Bar Association are the basis for lawyer ethics codes (in every state except California which has its own set of unique rules governing professional attorney conduct). According to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives consent to do so. In addition, Model Rule 1.6 states that the confidentiality rule applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever is the source. Nevertheless, the ethics committee concludes that lawyers should be permitted to disclose the basic information needed for conflicts analysis.
|“Disclosure of conflicts information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6 should be considered permissible as necessary to comply with the rules.” – Ethics Committee|
Hence, Law firms now face significant penalties if they don’t disclose and take action on potential conflicts of interest when taking on clients.
Software Programs for Conflict Checking
The manual and traditional process of conflict checking in law firms is labor-intensive, time-consuming and involves tedious process as it requires manually entering and searching for a single name that could produce multiple results, filtering it down to find the exact one, and then performing an analysis to determine if a conflict exists. This is prone to human error and delays. Delay in securing the relationship could mean a loss to a competitive firm as timing is crucial to get the conflicts evaluated.
There are software programs available exclusively for conflict checking while some, come as part of a case management software program.
The conflict checking software can search through the data base that contains the names and details of the current clients, former clients or other parties. A Law Firm can use any number of searching strategies depending on the information needed such as name, business name, address, etc. These search strategies can be reused with any combination of these parameters and a quick, accurate and extensive search to detect possible exposures to conflict can be done through modern Conflict Checking software. Multiple data sources can be searched at the same time.
Creating a fool proof conflict checking system is essential to every law firm or attorney to ensure that their commitment to the client’s best interest is never questioned. If any potential conflicts of interest may be found, they need to be reviewed quickly to determine the level of impact they may pose, if any. Such flagged results must be immediately sent to the Conflicts team for review before they are sent for clearance. It is the duty of this team to analyze and ensure there’s no conflict of interest at any level. Conflict check software can provide report on initial findings so they can more effectively prioritize and manage each potential conflict.
Tackle Conflict Challenges with PageLightPrime
Law Firm Practice Management Software, PageLightPrime makes conflict checks much faster and easier for the law firms. Contact Management module provides 360 view of all the cases the Person or Company is associated and tracks type of relationship to these matters. With PageLightPrime, investigate possible conflicts in an inexpensive and quick way before you speak with a potential client. Client Intake form, like KYC can be integrated with the governance module and search for conflicts automatically occurs while inputting new case data, with assured compliance done in confidential and secured way. Conflict checks reports can be stored in Case files on the law firm document management solution