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Home / Case Digests / Committee on Professional Ethics — Conflicts: Opinion 914

Committee on Professional Ethics — Conflicts: Opinion 914

NYSBA Committee on Professional Ethics

Conflicts

Legal Aid Conflicts Panel

Opinion 914

Background: The inquiring attorney practices in a county that has an agreement with a legal aid society to provide legal assistance to indigent clients in criminal and family court matters. The lawyer is a member of a “legal aid conflicts panel.” The entity was formed to provide legal representation to indigents when the legal aid society has a conflict preventing the society from having one of its staff attorneys undertake the representation. The inquiring attorney asked whether a conflict that disqualifies a member of the conflicts panel is imputed to all members of the panel.

Opinion: The committee found that members of a panel of lawyers established to provide legal assistance to indigent clients when the Legal Aid Society has a conflict are not members of the same firm for purposes of conflict analysis. The panel of members must be independently engaged by, and independently render legal services to, their indigent clients.