REVIEW QUESTIONS ON CONFLICTS BETWEEN FORMER AND CURRENT CLIENTS AND THE SPECIAL PROBLEMS WHEN LAWYERS CHANGE FIRMS: RPC 1.9, 1.10 AND 1.11
Carmen George, widow of Martin George, filed a wrongful death action in Atlanta against the Acme Bicycle Company based on the death of her husband while riding an Acme bicycle. She hired the Sheldon law firm to represent her; Acme hired the Kirk law firm to defend. Ryan Paul was an associate at Kirk and took a deposition at Grady Hospital to review medical records relating to Martin’s fatal accident. Six months later Paul left Kirk and joined Sheldon as an associate. Paul did not notify either Acme or the Kirk law firm about his new employment. Two months after joining the Sheldon firm, Paul along with his supervisor, Maria Gomez, appeared on behalf of George at a routine motion hearing to extend discovery deadlines in the case. [Hint: review BOTH GRPC 1.9(a) and 1.10(a)]
1) Paul is subject to disbarment.
2) If Gomez knew that Paul had previously represented Acme in this case, she is subject to disbarment.
3) Both 1 and 2
4) Neither 1 nor 2
Ten days after the motion hearing, Acme filed a motion to disqualify the entire Sheldon law firm from further representation of George. Gomez replied by filing an affidavit that, prior to receiving the disqualification motion, she had not known that Paul had previously represented Acme in the case. The affidavit further states that Paul never conveyed any confidential information to Gomez about Acme that he learned while at the Kirk firm, and that the Sheldon firm has now terminated Paul’s employment. Assuming the affidavit is true, if Gomez continues to represent George, is she subject to disbarment? [Hint: review GRPC 1.10(b)]
1) No, because the termination of Paul removes any possible conflict of interest
2) No, because Gomez acquired no confidential information about Acme
3) Yes, if Paul had told any other lawyer at Sheldon confidential information about Acme
4) Yes, because the termination of Paul is not relevant
Assume that prior to joining the Sheldon firm, Paul has not worked for the Kirk firm, but he knows that his brother, an associate at Kirk, is working on the George case. Paul mentions this fact to Gomez when interviewing for the job but says that his brother has never told him any confidential information about the case. Upon hiring Paul, Gomez notifies her opposing counsel at Kirk, who replies that Acme wants the entire firm to withdraw from further involvement in the case.
1) If Paul works on the George case, he is subject to discipline
2) If Gomez continues to work on the George case, she is subject to discipline
3) Both 1 and 2
4) Neither 1 nor 2
Assume that the wrongful death suit was brought against both Acme Bicycle and the City of Atlanta and that Paul had worked on the case, not at the Kirk firm, but as a lawyer at the City Law Department. When Sheldon hired Paul, Gomez proposed to reate a special employment contract with Paul. [Hint: review GRPC 1.11(a)] Gomez can continue to represent Gomez without being subject to possible disbarment if:
1) The agreement provides that Paul is screened from any participation in the George lawsuit
2) The agreement provides Paul will receive no portion of any fee earned by the firm from the George lawsuit
3) Gomez sends copies of the proposed agreement to both her own client (George) and the City one week before Paul is hired
4) All of the above
Assume that when Paul applied to work for the Sheldon firm, he told Gomez that he had been involved in George v Acme while at the Kirk firm but did not disclose any further information. As a result, the Sheldon firm created a special employment contract under which Paul was screened from any participation in the case, agreed not to divulge to any member of the Sheldon firm information about the case he had acquired while at Kirk, and further agreed that he would receive no portion of any fee earned by firm in the case. Gomez immediately sent a copy of this agreement to George (her client) and to her opposing counsel at Kirk, who replied that Acme wanted the entire firm to withdraw from further involvement in the case. If Gomez continues to represent George, is she subject to disbarment?
Assume that when Paul applied to work for the Sheldon firm, he told Gomez that he had been involved in George v Acme while at the Kirk firm but did not disclose any further information. Assume further that Georgia has amended GRPC 1.10 so that it is identical to the current ABA Model Rule 1.10. Can Gomez can continue to represent George if the Sheldon firm hires Paul, even over the objections of Acme, without being subject to disbarment?
1) Yes, as long as Paul is screened from any participation in the George case
2) Yes, as long as Paul receives no portion of any fee earned by the firm in the George case
3) Yes, if both (1) and (2) are satisfied
4) No, because more than (1) and (2) are required to avoid disqualification of the entire firm