What is a Conflict of Interest?

A conflict of interest occurs when a person’s responsibilities clash with matters of personal interest. Having a conflict of interest can provoke bias within an individual, making them ill equipped to ethically make decisions. The responsibility falls on the employee to let the employer know that their is, even potential for, a conflict of interest.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is when an individual’s responsibility to someone, or even something, clashes with an opportunity for personal gain. There’s going to be two parts to any conflict of interest.

The first is going to be the individual’s responsibility, and the second part is going to be the opportunity for personal gain. Say you’re familiar with a case or a client working for one firm, and then you change firms and represent the other side. You have a conflict of interest. What’s your responsibility? Your responsibility is to follow the law and collect information for the case in the proper way.

However, the opportunity for personal gain is to be able to win this case by using information collected while you were working at the previous firm. That’s a conflict of interest. A lot of times, conflicts of interest also occur because of relationships, that is, you being related to someone else involved in the case (maybe your client, opponent, or someone representing the opponent). Say, for example, you’re representing a client that is suing your grandmother. Your responsibility is to represent the client, however, the opportunity for personal gain is to protect your grandmother. That would be a conflict of interest.

It’s your responsibility to keep track of the cases you work on, and then you need to review them with your new employer if you change firms. Then, from there, it is your responsibility to notify your employer as soon as you are aware of a conflict of interest. By notifying your employer, your employer and your client can determine whether or not you may proceed to work on the case. Sometimes even a court may have to get involved to decide if you can continue to work on the case.

It’s your responsibility to be aware of the rules set by the American Bar Association regarding conflicts of interest so you are able to identify them and take necessary action.

Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation

Last updated: 04/23/2018
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