October 29, 2019 Top Story

Court Disqualifies Attorney Hired by General Partner

Hiring of lawyer raises ethical concerns in representation of partnership

By Kelso L. Anderson

An attorney hired by a general partner may be disqualified from representing the partnership if the partnership agreement does not specifically authorize that partner to act on behalf of the partnership. ABA Section of Litigation leaders think that Jarvis v. Jarvis reached a fair result on the facts presented, but see ethical and other concerns for attorneys involved in similar circumstances.

The brothers, who were partners, could not agree on how to dispense of their co-owned property

The brothers, who were partners, could not agree on how to dispense of their co-owned property

iStockphoto by Getty Images

Lack of Partnership Authority

In Jarvis, two brothers, James and Todd, were general partners and 50 percent owners of Jarvis Properties, a limited partnership that owned a two-acre parcel of land. Jarvis Properties was the only asset of the partnership and the brothers were the only partners. The partnership agreement required the partnership to act only with the consent of a “majority” of the general partners. The general partners could not agree on how to dispense with Jarvis Properties, and the partnership agreement did not address how to make decisions in the event of a deadlock.

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