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