Legal Memorandum: Attorney's Conflict of Interest Issue

Issue: Under Illinois or similar law, do allegations of undue influence by a prospective guardian against the ward prohibit one attorney from representing both the ward and the guardian?

Area of Law: Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Keywords: Conflict of interest; Attorney; Prospective guardian and ward
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Rule 1.7(b)
Date: 10/01/2007

Although Illinois does not have a specific rule on attorney/relatives representing potentially adverse parties and no Illinois case was found on point, the ABA’s Manual on Professional Conduct suggests that the “lawyer’s own interests” phrase in Rule 1.7(b) may limit attorney/relatives from representing different parties in the same matter:

[L]awyers who are related to each other as parent and child or as siblings generally may not represent different parties in the same matter without the informed consent of their clients.  These close family relationships ordinarily present a personal conflict of interest for the lawyers; accordingly, their clients’ consent after disclosure of the relationship and its possible implications is needed to undertake the relationship.


ABA/BNA Lawyer’s Manual on Professional Conduct, 51:1301 (Aug, 2006).  The Official Comments to Model Rule 1.7, on which Illinois Rule 1.7 is based, indicate this rule should be construed to prohibit lawyer/relatives from representing different clients in the same matter without each client’s informed consent.  See id. at 51:1302 (quoting Comment [11] to Model Rule 1.7 added by ABA in 2002). 


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