Attorneys who represent clients with adverse interests eventually will be forced
to compromise the interests of at least one of the clients. This is a particular
problem in legal specialty areas such as medical law. There are advantages to
the client in hiring a law firm that has experience in the problems at hand. In
medical law, this often means a law firm with experience in representing
health care providers. Twenty years ago, there were few conflicts between
medical clients. Now, with the competition between hospitals and between
individual physicians, it is important to ask the identity of the law firm’s other
medical care clients. (This is not privileged information.) If the law firm
represents real or potential competitors, it is best to hire a different law firm.
Sometimes it is impossible to find another law firm with the appropriate
expertise. It is then up to the law firm and the client to discuss the potential
conflicts and establish a plan for avoiding them. This is especially important in
medical malpractice defense.