It is a sine qua non of legal practice that lawyers should not allow themselves to act for two clients whose interests may, potentially, conflict. However, this principle is being placed under increasing pressure, the main reasons for this being increased demand for specialist legal services, the globalisation of commerce, a dramatic growth in the size of leading law firms, and significantly greater mobility within the legal profession. As a result, there is a growing trend, especially within the commercial legal environment, for solicitors to face conflicts of interest which have no easy solution. Increasingly, conflicts are being 'managed', rather than avoided altogether. This is a field within which the Law Society's own rules are flouted on a daily basis, and in which these rules appear increasingly at odds with the common law. Based on extensive interviews with lawyers and their clients, this book provides the first thorough consideration of how conflicts of interest are handled within law firms. It will be essential reading to all those who have an interest in professional legal ethics, including law students, legal scholars, practitioners, and regulators.
This is a timely work, which should do much to inform the debate within the profession as to the applicability of the law, and the profession's own rules, to the linked issues of client confidentiality and conflict of interest in the modern legal world. Simon Young, LawGroup UK New Law Journal May 2003