Six Degrees Of Separation: How Conflict Checking Protects Your Law Firm From Ethics Violations
Conflict of interest is a serious accusation for any attorney. Previous relationships with clients, witnesses or anyone else involved in a case can bias judgment against you. Even associations between parties can influence the outcome of a case. Most legal office management software comes with some kind of conflict checking but nobody provides better protection than CosmoLex.
Basic Conflict Checking
One of the many advantages of the modern generation of computerized law firm billing software is that it is easier than ever to keep track of your contacts. This not only allows you to maintain a list of everyone involved in a matter in one central location but it also simplifies the process of conflict checking. You click a button and the software notifies you that the John Smith you just took as a client has a previous relationship with you.
However the problem with most software is it does a very superficial check. Sure John Smith is in your phone book, but who is he? Further investigation reveals you represented him on an unrelated matter several years ago but is that all he is to you? Is that all he is to your case?
Advanced Conflict Checking
Version 1.7 of CosmoLex adds advanced conflict checking that does more than simply cross-reference your digital rolodex. Each contact you add to CosmoLex can be given a relationship within a matter. You might discover than Mr. Smith is not only a former client on an unrelated case, but also the friend of a witness on a case that has direct bearing on the matter at hand. Suddenly you realize you actually do have a conflict of interest, even if you were not aware of it.
To use this advanced conflict check go to the Matter screen, select the matter of interest, and then select Action > Conflict Check > Set Relations. Here you can add a list of names and designate each person’s relationship to the matter such as Friend, Vendor, Opposing Attorney and more. Then when you click Action > Conflict Check > Run Check it will compare names against your general contact list as well as this matter-specific contact list.
Any legal billing program that can’t provide this added depth of verification is not giving the protection a modern attorney needs. Claiming you didn’t know about a conflict is not going to impress a judge or your bar association. If you aren’t already a user, then register now to try CosmoLex for yourself.