Conflicts and confidences are the ethical tripwires of our profession. What may seem like a reasonable assumption about the alignment of parties and the necessity of maintaining confidences at the outset of a case can quickly become a quagmire, especially in the context or organizational or joint representations. The Cynthia Baldwin matter demonstrates how difficult these issues are, especially in the criminal defense context.
Before delving into the lessons learned from this high-profile disciplinary proceeding, an important point of procedure must be discussed. While the recent Hearing Committee Report does conclude that Baldwin did not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, this is only the first of three levels of de novo review of the facts and the law in the Pennsylvania attorney disciplinary process. The matter is far from over and may not be finally decided for several months.
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