Conflict of Interest Rules in Texas
During law school or while you are waiting for your bar results, you may work as a law clerk or legal assistant for a lawyer or law firm. Later you may seek work with a second lawyer or law firm. In that situation, you need to know about Comment 19 to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.06, which says:
- A law firm is not prohibited from representing a client under paragraph (f) merely because a nonlawyer employee of the firm, such as a paralegal or legal secretary, has a conflict of interest arising from prior employment or some other source. Nor is a firm prohibited from representing a client merely because a lawyer of the firm has a conflict of interest arising from events that occurred before the person became a lawyer, such as work that the person did as a law clerk or intern. But the firm must ordinarily screen the person with the conflict from any personal participation in the matter to prevent the person’s communicating to others in the firm confidential information that the person and the firm have a legal duty to protect. See Rule 5.03; see also MODEL RULES PROF’L CONDUCT r. 1.10 cmt. 4 (AM. BAR ASS’N 1983); RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF THE LAW GOVERNING LAWYERS § 123 cmt. f (AM. LAW INST. 2000).
For a new employer to do a conflict check and screen you from personal participation in a matter, you must have a good list of matters on which you have previously worked. A personal conflicts log gives you a way to keep such a list.