Opinion date: Sept. 2, 2003
Ethics issue presented:
Must Inquirer obtain permission from wife to represent husband in a domestic relations dispute due to Inquirer's former association with the firm that represents wife?
Facts as presented by Inquirer:
Inquirer was formerly employed at a Old Law Firm which handled a divorce for Client Wife. Inquirer never worked on divorce case though the divorce case was discussed at office meetings. Husband and Wife reconciled. Inquirer left Old Law Firm and works at New Law Firm. Husband wants to hire Inquirer. Old Law Firm still represents Wife.
Although Inquirer did not directly represent the former client (wife), Inquirer was a member of the law firm which represented wife in a previous domestic dispute with husband. Husband now has sought representation of attorney in divorce from wife who is still represented by attorney's former firm. Rule 1.9 requires that Inquirer obtain wife's consent to represent husband as this was substantially the same transaction for which the former firm represented (and still represents) wife. Both husband's and wife's interests remain adverse. The Inquirer's alleged failure to recollect any specific facts of prior divorce proceedings is immaterial. Inquirer's association is sufficient to preclude representation without consent from the wife after full disclosure of the circumstances.