In the two prior bulletins in this series, we considered: (1) the need for the lawyer/lobbyist to specifically notify the client whether or not the protections of a client-lawyer relationship will exist in the engagement and (2) when the duty of confidentially covers the lawyer/lobbyist’s relationships with clients. The duty of loyalty and avoiding conflicts of interest is another important protection of the client-lawyer relationship which the lawyer/lobbyist and client must consider when defining the nature of the engagement in the agreement for services.1
Because nonlawyers may engage in lobbying activity, lawyers and their associates may remove such governmental relations activities from the scrutiny of the conflicts provisions of the legal ethics rules through strict compliance with the regulations of Rule 5.7 for “law-related services.”2 To do so, however, the lobbying client must receive clear notice that the services are not legal services and conflicts of interest will not be evaluated and monitored.3
If such Rule 5.7 notification is not given, however, lawyer/lobbyists must avoid conflicts of interests when:
- The lobbying representation is directly adverse to another current representation of a law firm client; or
- The lobbying representation creates a substantial risk that the lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend, or carry out an appropriate course of action on the lobbying representation will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities on representation of a current or former law firm client, to a third person or by the lawyer’s own personal interests.4
Nonetheless, in the traditional client-lawyer relationship, if (i) the lawyer can provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client, (ii) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing, and (iii) the conflict is otherwise waivable,5 the lawyer/lobbyist can meet the requirements of Rule 1.7 and properly obtain waiver of the conflict of interest.