Conflicts Between Lawyer & Client - Sharing Space continued
The obvious question that arises is: how can you ensure from the outset that neither you, nor the lawyers with whom you share space, are accepting retainers for clients adverse in interest to existing clients in circumstances where you have agreed not to take on such matters? The answer is that you need to establish a conflicts checking system that prevents conflicts from arising with space-sharing colleagues. However, to ensure confidentiality and avoid conflicts, you must have the consent of each client before disclosing any information about the client for the purposes of the space-sharing conflict check. Although implied consent is theoretically possible, the best course of action is to obtain express consent. For further detail, see BC Code, Chapter 3, rule 3.4-43.
Although there are many resources you may wish to share in a space-sharing arrangement in order to reduce overhead, it is strongly recommended you do not share a fax machine with others in a space-sharing arrangement, particularly where you may act for clients of adversarial interest. Nor should you share computers or a centralized server with others in a space-sharing arrangement. Difficult issues surrounding the protection, security, and confidentiality of information on your computers will arise, and lawyers who share these resources do so at their own peril.
If you enter a space-sharing agreement, make sure you advise your excess insurer of the relationship and ensure proper coverage is in place. If you have questions about the nature of your space-sharing arrangement, contact the Practice Advisors at the LSBC. If you have questions about the insurance ramifications of space-sharing, contact the Lawyers Insurance Fund.