Limiting Exposure to Conflicts

Join me for a CLE on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 about limiting exposure to conflicts.  Learn the ethical principles behind conflict management, avoiding common conflict traps, and how to select and operate an effective conflict system. Topics include:

Laying the ethical foundation

  • Who is the client?
  • What is the client’s status: prospect, current client, or former client?
  • Why does it matter?

Choosing a reliable system

  • The In Re Knappenberger standard
  • DIY vs. stand-alone vs. practice management software
  • How to choose the best system for your firm

Understanding conflict tracking

  • When to run a conflict check
  • How to use your system effectively
  • Parties to include in your conflict system

Avoiding common conflict traps

  • Former client conflicts
  • Acting in dual roles
  • Doing business with clients
  • Representing multiple clients in the same matter
  • Firm transitions
  • Acting as a contract lawyer
  • Office sharing arrangements


Wednesday, October 25, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. This is a live, online webinar. Watch from your desktop computer or mobile device. Connect to audio via telephone or computer/device speakers.

Who Should Attend?

Lawyers, office administrators, or staff – anyone interested in learning more about proper conflict system management.

Group Discounts

Discounts available to firms who wish to register 5 or more attendees. Contact organizer to arrange a discount code before registering:

Does the Program Include Written Materials?

Yes. Written materials will be distributed electronically to all registered attendees prior to the event.

Ask Questions/Participate in Live Polling

Questions are welcome during the live event. Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Registration Fee

$25 – Visit the Upcoming CLE page, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.

Eventbrite - Limiting Exposure to Conflicts

MCLE Credits
.50 ethics .50 practical skills pending.

Can’t Attend?

Video and audio recordings of Limiting Exposure to Conflicts will be available to download along with the program materials following the October 25 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me or visit my online CLE store after October 25.

All Rights Reserved [2017] Beverly Michaelis

FAQ – Law Practice Management, Part 2

Last week I answered some frequently asked questions about law practice management.  In today’s post, I am addressing a few more:

Conflicts of Interest – Prospective and Declined Clients


Am I required to track prospective and declined clients in my conflict of interest system?


We recommend that prospective and declined clients be included in your conflict system.  For example, assume a husband comes in for a consultation because he is contemplating divorce. During the consultation, the husband discloses confidential information. The husband then decides not to proceed with the divorce, or you decline the husband as a client. Two years later, the wife comes in seeking a divorce. If you accept the wife as a client, you will have a conflict of interest. This could happen easily if you forget about the consultation with the husband and do not maintain a record of consultations in your conflict system.

Conflicts of Interest – Tracking “No Show” Lawyer Referral Clients


What should I do if the bar refers a potential client to me and they are a “no show?”  Or the potential client never calls?  Do I still need to include the non-client in my conflict system?


A piece of advice before I answer the conflict question:  If the bar refers a potential client to you and the potential client does not call, inform the bar so you can get another referral.

Now, with regard to your conflict system:  You are not required to include names of potential bar referral clients who never call you.   The same is true of a “no show” who fails to keep a scheduled appointment (unless you learned confidential information about the client or her matter in the course of setting up the meeting).

Regardless, tracking “no calls” and “no shows” might prove helpful:

Joe Smith is referred to you by the bar for a divorce.  Joe is a “no show” for his appointment.  Other than knowing the adverse party’s name (Marie Smith), you have no information about Joe’s divorce.  Because Joe did not keep his appointment and you possess no confidential information about the matter, Joe may not appear in your conflict system.  Time passes.  Marie Smith calls.  You want to represent Marie.  Can you see the value of having an entry in your system documenting that Joe was a “no show” and did not keep his appointment?  Joe was never your client and your entry proves it.

Or assume a slightly different scenario.  Jane is referred to you by the bar.  You schedule an appointment for the next day.  Jane doesn’t show.  Six weeks later, Jane calls again.  As part of your regular conflict screening process, you run Jane through your system and see that she did not keep her last appointment.  This might be useful information to have in deciding whether to schedule Jane for a second meeting.

Keeping Declined or Miscellaneous Client Records


What should I do with the notes or nonengagement letters I’ve accumulated for persons who don’t become clients?


If you are paper-based

Keep a yearly declined or miscellaneous clients folder.  For example: “2011 Declined Clients.”  In the folder, staple together your intake sheet, notes, a copy of your nonengagement letter, and anything else you have from your meeting with the declined client.  This is cheaper than opening a file folder for everyone you meet.  Paperwork pertaining to declined clients can be kept chronologically within each year’s file.  Keep these records at least 10 years, as you would actual client files.  (For File Retention Guidelines, visit the PLF Web site.  Select Practice Aids and Forms > File Management.)   Always return any original documents provided by the client and remember to add declined clients to your conflict system.

If you are paperless

Create a file folder on your computer called “Declined Clients” and create subfolders for each year.  If you like, you can create further subfolders for each declined client.  Otherwise, generate a PDF file for each declined client and save the PDF under the declined client’s name.  In the PDF, assemble copies of your intake sheet, notes, and nonengagement letter or e-mail.  Scan any paper related to the declined/miscellaneous client and append it to the PDF.  Store your electronic records at least 10 years.  Be sure to capture your declined client folder in your backup.  Always return any original documents provided by the client and remember to add declined clients to your conflict system.

Unlawful Practice of Law


What  should I do if I believe someone is engaged in the unlawful practice of law?


If you believe someone is engaging in the unlawful practice of law, report it to the Oregon State Bar.  A complaint form is available here.  On its Web site, the Oregon State Bar provides the following information:

“The UPL committee has authority to:

  • Dismiss a complaint
  • Send a notice letter, warning that the accused’s activities could be considered the unlawful practice of law
  • Issue an admonition with the consent of the accused
  • Enter into a cease and desist agreement with the accused or
  • Recommend to the OSB Board of Governors that the OSB file a lawsuit against the accused to prevent him from continuing to practice law without authorization.

Occasionally, if an investigation suggests that there has been some illegal activity that the UPL committee cannot address, then the UPL committee will forward the results of its investigation to other state bars, to the Oregon Attorney General, or to another appropriate regulatory agency.”

Copyright 2011 Beverly Michaelis