Is it legal, in WV, for 2 lawyers who work for the same firm to represent 2 different clients in the same case?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal, in WV, for 2 lawyers who work for the same firm to represent 2 different clients in the same case?

Is it legal, in WV, for 2 lawyers who work for the same firm to represent 2
different clients in the same case? They were living together for years though
never married and when they parted ways Person A decided to try to lay claim to
all yes, all of Person B’s assets. Person A, uses Lawyer A, and Person B, uses
Lawyer B.

But Lawyer A and Lawyer B both work for the same firm. Isn’t this conflict of
interests? How can they have the same firm representing each of them? Even if its
different lawyers?

Asked on January 7, 2017 under Family Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is almost certainly a conflict to have lawyers in the same firm represent adverse clients simultaneously, because the risk of the representation of one or both being compromised by the sharing of information and/or by economic interests (e.g. the lawyers could "collaborate" to maximize what their firm is paid at the clients' expense). Of course, even if there is a conflict, the clients have the right to "waive" the conflict if they are informed as of the risks involved and agree in writing to nonetheless have the representation. So in this case, the clients could agree to allow this if both agree in writing, but either one could otherwise raise a claim of conflict...and if you want an opinion as to this, it would be an awful idea to have attorneys at the same firm represent both sides, and I can't imagine any firm actually allowing this as you indicate one is, or any clients agreeing to it. The risks of doing something improper and of bad representation are simply too high.
Below I have quoted the relevant rule from West VA's attorney Professional Conduct rules.
Conflict of Interest; Current Clients

Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:
the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or
there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.

Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:
the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client; 
the representation is not prohibited by law;
the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and
each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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