A recent ethics opinion from the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Formal Opinion 494 (Opinion 494) examines the meaning and scope of personal interest conflicts specifically in connection with lawyers’ relationships with opposing counsel, a hitherto often overlooked component of Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC) 1.7. In this article we will discuss the principal conclusions in the opinion, and the lessons it holds for New York lawyers.

Personal relationships are addressed in Comment [11] to ABA Model Rule 1.7. New York addresses the issue in RPC 1.10 (h) which states that [a] lawyer related to another lawyer as parent, child, sibling or spouse shall not represent in any matter a client whose interests differ from those of another party to the matter who the lawyer knows is represented by the other lawyer unless the client consents to the representation after full disclosure and the lawyer concludes that the lawyer can adequately represent the interests of the client.

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