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    Formal Ethics Opinion 97-405 (downloadable pdf)

    Formal Ethics Opinion 97-405 (downloadable pdf)

    Formal Ethics Opinion 97-405 (downloadable pdf)

    Conflicts in Representing Government Entities A lawyer who is engaged to represent a government entity, whether on a full-time or part-time basis, may not agree simultaneously to represent a private party against her own government client, absent the informed consent of both clients. See Model Rule 1.7(a).
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    The lawyer may represent a private client against another government entity in the same jurisdiction in an unrelated matter, as long as the two government entities are not considered the same client, and as long as the requirements of Model Rule 1.7(b) are satisfied. The identity of the government client for conflict of interest purposes, like that of any other organizational client, will be established in the first instance between the lawyer and government officials who are authorized to speak for the government client, in accordance with the general precepts of client autonomy set forth in Model Rule 1.2. The lawyer may not, by agreeing to a narrow definition of the government client, seek to defeat the reasonable expectation of her other clients that they will get a conflict-free representation from their lawyer.

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