Ensuring no conflict of interest prior to consultation

We need to consult with an attorney ASAP. Situation involves exempt/non-exempt status,overtime pay (request has been made),retaliation,worker safety,have been informed overtime situation has occured in past with previous employees so the possibility to prove willful disregard of law exists....How do we proceed to ensure that an attorney we're considering a consult with is not affiliated with the employer? I realize we could just ask but then we could inadvertantly inform them that further action is occuring and retaliation could escalate. Is the initial consultation covered by attorney/client privilege? To be straightforward- the employer knows what they're doing,retaliation has already begun and we don't want to make it any worse before we are fully prepared. Thanks for your time.

1 answer  |  asked Oct 25, 2008 1:12 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
The initial consultation is covered by the attorney client privilege

You have two sources of protection against an undisclosed conflict of interest. First, the rules governing attorney ethical conduct prohibit conflicts of interest and attorney misrepresentation. This means that an attorney must disclose to you if they have a conflict of interest. In addition, they cannot misrepresent that they do not represent your employer.

This duty not to make a misrepresentation does not depend on the attorney/client relationship. If an attorney misrepresents a material fact, even on a public forum like this website, they put their law license at risk.

Second, once you schedule a consultation and an attorney offers legal advice, the attorney/client relationship has formed and the attorney must treat anything that he or she learns from you as privileged and confidential and cannot disclose it to anyone else, including his or her other clients. Note, however, that this website and the answers that you receive from Ask MEL are not covered by the attorney/client relationship and are not privileged.

To protect yourself, I suggest that you pick the attorney that you feel you can trust, schedule a five minute consultation for the purposes of investigating the presence of a conflict or not and then go forward with or end the consultation depending on whether there is a conflict. I believe that every attorney, including me, will offer the initial consultation to investigate a conflict, for free.

Best regards,

Neil Klingshirn

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Oct 26, 2008 11:21 AM [EST]

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