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Conflicts

Be mindful of conflict issues. Be sure your backup counsel is sensitive to conflict issues. Agreements with backup counsel may not unilaterally allow access to client information since ethics rules require lawyers to protect client confidences and secrets. A lawyer may not disclose confidences and secrets or use confidences and secrets to the benefit of a third party or for the lawyer's own interests, without the client's consent. Partners and employees are bound by the lawyer's duty to protect confidences and secrets within a law firm. The solo practitioner's personal representative is not. The best way to deal with this problem is to be sure to add a paragraph to the retainer letter or fee agreement providing that, in the event of the lawyer's disability or death before the conclusion of the matter, a backup lawyer will have access to the client's name, address, and representation file in order to notify the client so the client may obtain substitute counsel. Rules 1.6, 1.7, 1.9, and 1.10.