Screening new business and clients

July 23, 2013

Attorney communicationIn my last post I wrote about preparing for conflicts of interest and the three key categories to consider when planning preventative procedures and policies.  Those categories included:

  1. Screening New Business, Clients, Employees;
  2. Data Storage; and
  3. Information Communication.

To further expound upon the first category, screening new business and clients are an essential part of preparing for conflicts of interest issues because client confidences must be carefully considered before accepting the new representation in order to avoid breaches in that confidentiality.  The potential client, all parties in opposition to the new business, if any, and area of representation must all be reviewed.  In addition, there are other important factors to research and evaluate as well.

Existing and Future Business – Determine how the initial representation of the client may affect the representation of your existing clients, their future business, and other future targeted clients.

Parent Company or Subsidiaries – Inquire if the client is a parent company or a subsidiary of another company.  If there is a parent company or subsidiary, determine the breaches in confidentiality issues that may arise with your existing clients or future targeted clients from affiliations with those companies.

Business Affiliations, Associations and Alliances – Inquire about the business affiliations, associations and alliances of the client and their parent company or subsidiaries if applicable.  Such associations could also affect your current clients and future targeted clients.

Future Representation of the New Client – Determine whether the client is long-term or short-term and the prospect for future representation from that client.

Credit History – Research the client’s credit history to ensure financial stability.

Conflicts of Interest Waivers – Inquire if the client will agree to sign a conflicts of interest waiver if needed and admissible.  Some clients may have internal policies in place that require non consent to waivers under any circumstances.

Cost to the Firm – Initially, determine the cost to the firm and the attorneys involved if the new business is accepted.

Obtaining wide-ranging information at the outset can help prevent getting involved in a situation that could not only result in a malpractice suit, but also help reduce costing you valuable time and expense.