Plant and Rosenstein separated, and Rosenstein retained a lawyer, Ages, to vary the terms of the separation agreement. Plant, himself a lawyer, moved to remove Ages based on a conflict of interest. Plant alleged that he had discussed confidential matters with Ages on more than one occasion and Ages had provided Plant with advice. Specifically, ten years before, Ages and Plant met over lunch to discuss Ages’ firm’s interest in having Plant join them; there was a discussion on the street in fall 2006, before Plant and his wife separated, in which Plant claimed to have provided details of his personal and professional life, and to have received advice from Ages; and there was a discussion with Ages at the court house in spring 2009 when the two ran into each other at Assignment Court, during which Plant discussed his law partnership and financial circumstances respecting his former wife. Ages did not recall specifics of these discussions and saw it as a controlling tactic by Plant to prevent his wife from having counsel of her choice.
The motion judge held that it was not necessary for a lawyer to actually be retained before establishing a solicitor-client relationship relevant to the determination of a potential conflict of interest. The motion judge found that the conversations revealed personal and business information about Plant, and established a previous relationship sufficiently related to Ages’ retainer with Rosenstein, even though Plant never retained Ages. Ages did not discharge his burden to show that no potentially relevant confidential information was imparted. Ages’ continued representation of Rosenstein would create an appearance of a conflict of interest to reasonably informed members of the public.