November 2006

On November 8, 2006,  a judge in Fulton County, Georgia, disqualified Duane Morris from representing Nan Smith and Alex Smith in an arbitration brought by McKesson Information Solutions, LLC because Duane Morris also represented two other McKesson subsidiaries in an unrelated bankruptcy proceeding.  Since this decision was announced, two clients has lamented about the hubris of "big firms" when it comes to retention letters and the prospective waivers such letters generally include.  One of these clients has gone so far as to implement a corporate policy that it will not sign retention letters: law firms either sign the company’s policies for outside counsel or do not represent the client.  The other client advised me to have the Butler Rubin web site feature prominently that we generally do not have conflicts of interest.  That simple fact of geometric progression aside, I am left to wonder about the "client focus" bona-fides of any firm that chooses to pursue a matter adverse to a client where the client has refused to waive the conflict.  That pursuit signifies that the firm has decided that one client is more important than the other, and that rather than step to the sidelines, it will risk its relationship with the client for a single matter.  Maybe I am missing something–and if so, I’d love to hear the contrary position–but the thinking in such decision-making seems to be anything but client-focused.