Conflict of Interest
Lawyer's Personal Interests
The Code of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer from acting when the lawyer's personal or outside interests conflict with the client's interests. In that circumstance, the Code advises that the lawyer shall not act for the client where the lawyer's duty to the client and the personal interests of the lawyer are in conflict. For example, unless the client is a family member and there is no appearance of undue influence, the lawyer is prohibited from preparing a document or will for a client that gives the lawyer or an associate a substantial gift.
Lawyers should not borrow money, lend money or enters into a business relationship with a client unless the transaction is fair and reasonable to the client, the client consents to the transaction and the client has independent legal representation with respect to the transaction.
The Code of Professional Conduct specifically states that debtor-creditor relationships between lawyers and clients are to be avoided, as they have the potential of creating a conflict of interest between the lawyer and the client. In other words, a lawyer should not borrow money from a client who is not in the business of lending money, and a lawyer should not lend money to the client except by way of advancing necessary expenses in a legal matter that the lawyer is handling for the client.