In the Headlines
August 9, 2016

Conflicts of Interest: Hot Potato Doctrine Applies Before Lateral Joins Firm

ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled in July that a law firm shouldn't have to unilaterally withdraw from representing a long-term client if conflict should arise from lateral hires or mergers. This doctrine precludes firms from terminating representation of current clients in order to bring in attorney hires and their clients. Legal Ethics Attorney Allison Martin Rhodes weighed in on the so-called "hot potato doctrine."

"The hot potato doctrine can torpedo moves and mergers," Ms. Rhodes said. Ms. Rhodes noted that lateral hires or mergers by large law firms can create conflict over small latters, resulting in "a questionable balance of the equities."

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