Can my Spouse use the Same Law Firm I Used to Close on my Home to Represent him in our Divorce?

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“If I use a certain law firm to do a closing on my home, which is in my name only, and afterward I get a divorce, can my husband use this same firm to represent him in the divorce or is it a conflict of interest?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.9 “Client-Lawyer Relationship Duties To Former Clients”, “(a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.; (b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client (1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and (2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter; unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing. (c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter: (1) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or (2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.”

This does not seem to be a substantially related matter, that would automatically disqualify the law firm, and require your writen consent. However, if you make a big enough stink, you could probably convince the law firm that it is not worth the hassle to be in the case. If it came in front of a judge it would be the factual call for the judge to make whether your confidences were being infringed upon. If you revealed secrets to members of that firm during your house sale, and such secrets would make it impossible to represent you, then they would also not ethically be able to take the case.

Just because you used a law firm in the past does not automatically disqualify that firm from representing someone adverse to you in the future.



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Author: House Attorney

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