question for you all; in NC. When a couple separate, say the wife goes and talks to all the family lawyers in their town, is there a time limit before those lawyers will be able to talk to the husband? In 2010, wife talks to lawyers, lawyers tell husband they cant discuss case due to talking to wife. 2015, wife has been out of town for 4years now, living out of state in fact. Can husband talk to the same lawyers wife did back in 2010?
This question invokes North Carolina’s Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, Rule 1.7, the text of which is included below. The burden isn’t on you to know which attorneys your wife consulted with and avoid seeking representation by those attorneys. The attorneys need to make sure they are doing the necessary conflicts checks so as not to violate the rule.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:
(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or
(2) the representation of one or more clients may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third person, or by a personal interest of the lawyer.
(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;
(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;
(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and
(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.
I appreciate the time and effort for your response but it didn’t answer my question. I live on the east coast of NC, so seeing a Chapel Hill, Durham lawyer(s) are pretty much out of the question. This small town area I live in, there are a limited number of lawyers that I would see. Is there a time limit on the lawyers being held to the conflict of interest, or is it once someone sees them they are always held to it? I really don’t want to have to try and just talk to someone over the phone, I’m not a good phone person LOL. She saw All the good Family Lawyers in the area when we split in 2010, now she is living in Fl, will I even have a chance at seeing one of those lawyers she spoke to back in 2010? Thank You
The Rules of Professional Conduct do not cite a time period after which a conflict will disappear. It will be on each of the attorneys you reach out to to do a conflicts check and assess whether or not he or she could represent you without violating the rule. Again, the burden is on the attorney to make that decision so there is no harm in you moving forward by contacting someone and scheduling a consultation.