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Representation of Former Client by Former Law Clerk

Adopted: January 14, 1983


Law firm ABC represented client D for a substantial period of time. During that time, client D's file had an active status in the firm with significant amounts of work being performed almost every month. While law firm ABC represented client D, P was employed as a law clerk for law firm ABC. P had access to all files and information at law firm ABC during his employment there.

Law firm ABC is now suing client D to recover fees for services rendered. The law firm of P and Q represents client D in this action. The "P" in this law firm is the same "P" who was employed as a law clerk for law firm ABC while law firm ABC was representing client D. P contends that, during his employment as a law clerk of law firm ABC, he never did any work relating to client D, he never saw the file or any documents relating to client D, and he never discussed the case with any of the partners or associates of law firm ABC.

Under these circumstances, may law firm P and Q ethically represent client D in the action brought by law firm ABC to recover fees for services rendered to client D?


Yes. P, of course, was not a licensed attorney bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility at the time he was employed by law firm ABC, but he is licensed now and must govern his current actions by the Code of Professional Responsibility. However, there is no question of breach of client confidentiality under DR 4-101 or of conflict of interest under DR 5-105 since the client now represented by P and Q and the client previously represented by law firm ABC when lawyer P was a law clerk for that firm are one and the same. EC 2-32 and DR 2-109 (A) (2) recognize that the file is basically that of the client's when they require that a withdrawing or dismissed lawyer provide the client with all papers and property to which the client is entitled. See also CPR's 3, 315, 322. The objection of law firm ABC to their former employee's representation of their former client in defense of the claim brought by law firm ABC is not one which the Code of Professional Responsibility addresses.

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