Thursday, July 2, 2015

Verein Considered Single “Law Firm” for Determining Conflicts

The ALJ granted respondent's motion to disqualify complainants' counsel because the Canadian firm of the same Swiss verein/association was respondent's current counsel. "[T]he definitions of 'firm' or 'law firm' are broad enough to include a Swiss verein structure. [The verein] holds itself out to the public as a single law firm, but says that it is divided into 'Legal Practices.'. . . The undersigned concludes that the Swiss verein . . . is a 'firm' or 'law firm” within the meaning of Model Rule 1.0(c). Because this definition is met, the two Model Rules regarding conflicts with a current client and imputed conflicts among members of a firm apply here, since no party denies that, at a minimum, [The Canadian firm] has been representing [respondent] while [the US firm] has been concurrently representing Complainants. [The Canadian firm's] representation of [respondent] is imputed to [the US firm]. [The US firm] is therefore banned under the Model Rules from helping Complainants bring claims against [respondent] in this Investigation. . . . [Counsel's] continued representation in the face of a direct conflict would both contradict this public image and impact negatively on the law profession as a whole."

Laser Abraded Denim Garments, 337-TA-930 (ITC June 30, 2015, Order) (Bullock, ALJ)

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