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Attorney Misconduct (Conflict of Interest)

Discussion in 'Professional, Medical Malpractice' started by Silvi, Jul 31, 2021.

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  1. Silvi

    Silvi Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Iowa
    afternoon, this involves probate (an estate). Mother passed in february of 2019. our eldest brother was the executor of the estate but due to doing a very poor job and caught mishandling assets, the rest of the heirs petitioned the court for his removal. he resigned before the hearing (but of course still remains as an heir).

    a new executor was nominated by heirs, an old family friend. the exec hired an attorney to assist her. This attorney is an acquaintance of the brother (who resigned), so we were cautious about any conflict of interest. We were assured by both the brother and this attorney that they had absolutely no attorney-client relationship, in the past nor currently

    it's the weekend (saturday) and I and the other heirs just found out that indeed, this Attorney has had my brother for a client many times in the past and also, currently, as this estate is being settled, is also working for my brothers interest. again, I'll repeat, this attorney is double dipping serving as the current execs counsel and also on the sly representing our brother. There was absolutely no disclosure of both past and current professional relationship, both were asked and denied it, nor informed consent by any of the other heirs. An attorney can represent two parties at the same time?

    Basically, without naming names (someone who was privy to it all decided to expose what was going on), a bunch of emails between the two were forwarded last night and today. Also, copies of past (before the estate) billing between the brother and this attorney were disclosed

    again, it's saturday and of course it's the weekend. my personal attorney who's representing me is out of town on vacation, a wilderness hiking trip with no phone service and won't be back till end of week. This is just bugging the hell out of the rest of us, we all had strong thoughts that this was going on and the disclosed doc's confirmed it. Personally, I"ve spent a pretty penny with my attorney fighting the shenigans that have been going on that obviously now the reek of my brother and this attorney is obviously behind this.

    I'm scouring the internet researching this and am seeing red (not clearly). does anybody know what iowa statute addresses attorney conflict of interest? From what I've gleaned, this representing the estate and at same time clandestinely representing an heir is a huge conflict of interest is a big NO-NO .This practice is deeply frowned upon with harsh penalties
    Also, i welcome your thoughts

    thanks for your time
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    That makes things easier for you.

    You can compose a letter containing ALL of your concerns. send the letter via an express delivery service, (or hand carry same) to personally deliver the letter to your attorney's office.

    You can even send a copy of the letter via email to your attorney.

    Even IF your attorney is in town and available Monday, it takes time to arrange an emergency hearing.

    Why not make an appointment on a date when yoru attorney will be avialable for in office consultations?

    Of course, many people know the answer. In fact, as a graduate of an Iowa Law School, I;ll offer you the following.

    Here you go, OP:

    Rule 32:1.7 - CONFLICT OF INTEREST: CURRENT CLIENTS, Iowa R. Prof. Cond. 32:1.7 | Casetext Search + Citator

    Rule 32:1.10 - IMPUTATION OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: GENERAL RULE, Iowa R. Prof. Cond. 32:1.10 | Casetext Search + Citator


    An attorney conflict of interest can entail anything from a failure to provide full disclosure to intentional professional misconduct. This includes the following:

    1 Counsel to clients in related matters without giving full disclosure & obtaining waivers from parties

    2 Representing opposing parties in a dispute

    3 Representing 2 parties with conflicting interests on the same side of a dispute

    4 Offering representation when attorney has previously represented an opposing party

    5 Having a personal relationship with a member of an opposing party, including the lawyer

    6 Obtaining a percentage of the client’s business transaction in lieu of a fee
     
  3. Silvi

    Silvi Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you, Army Judge. yes, put it in writing and submit to my attorney...good advice. At this point (sat. night and lawyer is out of pocket til' next fri. at earliest), i'm at the "rant" stage. hope you can understand.

    would you please expound on your statement "emergency hearing"? I take it that yes, you are in agreement that their is a blatant conflict of interest and that my attorney needs to get on it asap!?
     
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Yes, in some circumstances. The attorney cannot, of course, represent two opposing parties in the same matter. So if the attorney is representing the executor and also representing the brother in his dealings with the estate, that's going to be a clear conflict of interest. However, the attorney might represent the brother in some other matter (e.g. a divorce proceeding between the brother and his wife) without necessarily resulting in a conflict of interest. In this situation it would not be something I would recommend the attorney do even if the attorney isn't technically violating the rules of professional conduct.

    Meet with your attorney when your attorney is available. It's unlikely that anything significant will happen to affect your interest in the estate before you are able to do that. Probate tends to be a slow moving process.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    An emergency hearing is one that gets the matter before a judge sooner, rather than later.

    Your attorney will advise you further.

    I make no assessment regarding your allegations, or about any other issue you've surfaced.

    I leave that for your attorney to address, after he/she has had time to investigate matters.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    No disclosure to whom? The lawyer should have disclosed it to the executor and to your brother, but the lawyer would have had no obligation to disclose anything to you.

    And yes, in some circumstances, a lawyer may represent multiple clients in connection with a single matter. Typically, that requires informed, written consent.

    The Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct are easy to find with a simple google search, and you can search within the Rules for "conflict."

    Certainly discuss this with your attorney when he returns, but it may be that you have no standing to do anything about this.
     
  7. Roger Clarke esq

    Roger Clarke esq New Member

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    zddoodah, are you serious? with a name like that, uh, probably not

    let see:

    Heirs elect an Estate Admin

    Admin hires an attorney

    This attorney represents the Admin as well as one of the Heirs

    No disclosure and consent of waiver given to the other Heirs (who've been in the dark about this until now)

    You highly suggest "no" conflict of interest?

    whatever your day job is, zddoodah, don't quit it. you're obviously not an attorney
     
  8. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    That is not likely required. Remember, the heirs are not the client of the attorney. The rules regarding conflicts of interest are meant to protect clients. Here, the clients involved are the estate and the brother. So the attorney may have needed consent from the estate (i.e. the executor) and the brother for this representation, but not the other heirs.

    Reread his post. He said nothing of the kind.

    Actually, he is an attorney. Based on your post, I can't be sure that you are an attorney.
     
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  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Thee may not think I see, but I can clearly see thou:


    snapshot_www.thelaw.com_1627930582910.png

    snapshot_www.thelaw.com_1627930735854.png

    I suspect others will see it, too, Bigfoot.
     
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  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Nuh-uh. He's not Bigfoot. He's just got absolute irrefutable proof of Bigfoot.
    I'm subscribing to every scientific journal I can in anticipation of the publication of his findings...although I suspect that the National Enquirer might be a better placed to look...
     
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  11. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Well, Goodness! I guess we now know the likely reason for bigfootforum.com banning him!
     
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  12. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It's great advertisement for the forum though ;)
     
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  13. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 (KJV)
     
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  14. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Everything in my prior response was serious. Why do you ask?

    That's not how things work. The OP wrote that "a new executor was nominated by heirs," but the reality is that becoming an executor requires a court order. It's certainly easier if all of the heirs are in agreement, but there is no "election."

    I neither said nor "highly suggest[ed]" any such thing. In fact, the word "conflict" doesn't appear in my prior response, except where I informed OP how he/she could search the relevant rules for the word "conflict." Perhaps your reading comprehension is off, but here's what I actually wrote: "The lawyer should have disclosed [the multiple representation] to the executor and to your brother, but the lawyer would have had no obligation to disclose anything to you.

    And yes, in some circumstances, a lawyer may represent multiple clients in connection with a single matter. Typically, that requires informed, written consent."

    Always fun when the ignorant open their pie holes and expose their ignorance.

    That aside, I note that you neither explained what you think was incorrect about what I wrote nor offered the OP any useful information. So...how 'bout it, Rog, got anything useful to contribute here or are you just going to be a troll?
     
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  15. stealthy1

    stealthy1 Active Member

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    And I'm sitting here wondering what sort of trouble this "someone" could get into for disclosing emails and billing statements...
     
  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure he'll fail at presenting any useful information...but he's got other BIG news ;)
     
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  17. sky town

    sky town New Member

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    Silvi,

    The exec of the estate, who is a fiduciary, has an obligation to be fair and equal to all Heirs. "If" this relationship between the brother, who had a motion filed against him for removal as previous exec, but resigned on the courthouse steps, and the attorney hired by the new exec exists, then yes, this is a conflict of interest.

    The current exec as well as this attorney was required to fully disclose this relationship and needed approval via signed waivers of consent from all heirs. From your post, sounds like this was not done. I believe the brother also had the same obligation

    So, now, here we are. Due to forwarded emails floating around, it sounds like the secret is out of the bag. Unless there was some lock solid agreement of confidentiality between the participants of these messages, forwarded emails (even including doc's such as billing, etc.) are fair game in the eyes of the law once they get sent off for the world to see. If your brother and/or this attorney was foolish enough to put their relationship out there in digital form, and one or the other was foolish enough to send these emails to others...well, too bad.

    So, yes, an attorney representing both the estate and and heir, at the same time, is plain and simple misconduct. Add to the fact they the attorney, brother and exec didn't disclose it, obtain consent and worked together as a 3-some probably constitutes a conspiracy.

    Don't listen to the people on this forum (Army Judge did give excellent advice), heck don't listen to me. BUT, gather your evidence and when your attorney gets back to town, prepare to have a field day with this trio

    An executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Was it to Silvi's best interest with this exec-attorney-former exec relationship?
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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  18. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that the executor's duty to the heirs is distinct from the lawyer's duty to his/her clients. Again, the heirs are not the clients of the attorney. The estate and the brother are the clients. They are the ones that the rules concerning conflict of interest are designed to protect.
     
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  19. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    I agree with your analysis based on OP's post of the fact pattern. I too believe it is a clear case of conflict of interest based on the Iowa RPC and some Iowa case that I reviewed.

    In this situation the attorney is serving 3 masters, the estate, the executor, and the brother all with different interests in the outcome of probate.
     
  20. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    That doesn't necessarily mean that it's a conflict of interest - read above.
     

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