In-house counsel face an ever-shifting array of ethical obligations and accompanying pitfalls. This article and accompanying presentation are not intended as a systematic overview of those issues. Instead, the intent is to highlight a few potential traps for the unwary. And please note, these matters are better not left to chance. [1]

In-House Counsel's Personal Representation of Firm Employees

Model Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 1.7 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.

Model Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice Of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice Of Law
(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

In-house counsel represent the legal interests of their employers and, as a general matter, not the company's individual employees. Quite often, however, in-house counsel find themselves in situations where they are asked to personally represent or provide legal advice to firm employees on an individual basis. As is often the case, what appears on its face to be a simple request can bring with it host of potential legal and ethical pitfalls.

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[1] This paper was originally presented in connection with a seminar presented at the ABA Section of Litigation Corporate Counsel Committee's 2016 CLE Seminar and Meeting, held at the Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ from February 11-14, 2016.

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