Why lawyers should not represent family members?

When lawyers representing different clients in the same matter or in substantially related matters are closely related by blood or marriage, there can be a significant risk that the client's trust will be revealed and that the lawyer's family relationship will interfere with both loyalty and independence. Technically, lawyers can represent anyone, including members of their own families. However, depending on the state you're practicing in and the type of case you need to handle, the answer to this question may be buried under a mountain of small letters and gray areas. This is a particular topic for divorce and end-of-life issues, so it's important to do your homework before proceeding.

Can a lawyer advise friends, family, and your spouse? Attorneys can advise friends, family, spouses, and others with whom they are familiar. A lawyer is not in conflict of interest simply because he is representing a family member or friend. However, if the relationship is close and the matter is scathing, the lawyer may not be able to remain professional and objective, and in such cases, it is best for the lawyer not to act as a lawyer. Attorneys will occasionally advance the necessary expenses in a legal matter that the lawyer is handling for the client, but it is best to avoid this by having the client pay in advance for expenses they incur, such as expert opinion reports.

In other words, a lawyer should not borrow money from a client who is not in the business of lending money, and a lawyer should not lend money to the client. If the lawyer has an ongoing and regular relationship with a client, the lawyer should disclose the relationship, recommend that the most recent party obtain independent legal advice, and obtain the consent of all parties to the joint advance. That's why a lawyer should always think carefully before accepting any case involving a family member. If, after such disclosure, all parties are satisfied that the lawyer acts on their behalf, the lawyer must obtain their consent, preferably in writing, or record their consent in a separate letter for each of them.

The Code of Professional Conduct specifically states that debtor-creditor relationships between lawyers and clients should be avoided, as they have the potential to create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client. However, it is not inappropriate for the lawyer to act against a former client in a new, independent matter that is not related to any work that the lawyer has previously performed for that person. If you represent a family member who ends up losing their case, you may not be on good terms with the rest of the family for quite some time. All lawyers should consider potential emotional conflicts before committing to represent and when representing anyone with whom they have family or emotional ties.

Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown

Incurable organizer. Professional internet evangelist. Passionate music advocate. Subtly charming twitter guru. Hardcore zombie junkie.

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