Conflict of Interests Law & Legal Definition


A conflict of interest arises when the considerations of one party is to the detriment of another. For example, a lawyer who represents both parties in a divorce may be required to find fault in one party in order to advance the interests of the other in property division or support matters. When an attorney has a personal financial interest which is adverse to the outcome sought by a client, the attorney has a duty not to represent the client under the Code of Professional Responsibility. Attorneys are required to withdraw from representation when an actual conflict exists. If there is a potential for a conflict of interests, the attorney may be able to maintain representation after making a disclosure about the potential conflict. Conflict of interests also arise in public offices, which occurs when a private gain to the individual officeholder is contrary to the interests of the public.