The Multilawyered Problems of Professional Responsibility
George M. Cohen | 2003 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1409
The ethics rules that lawyers live by order behavior and provide an archi-tecture through which they perceive issues and problems. In this article, Professor Cohen addresses an area of professional responsibility that has thus far received inadequate attention from either the Model Rules or the Model Code and was not improved upon significantly by the Ethics 2000 revisions. Specifically, Professor Cohen posits that a “general blind spot in the ethics rule architecture” exists by virtue of the failure of the ethics rules to deal in a comprehensive and systematic way with the problem of multiple lawyers representing, or owing some fiduciary obligations to, a client in a particular matter.
The article begins by laying the foundation to think about multilawyered problems. Professor Cohen introduces a taxonomy based on the variety of structural and legal relationships among lawyers and the client. He then proceeds to examine how, in a situation where multiple lawyers are present, the multiple lawyer relationship affects, and is affected by, the professional responsibilities of the lawyers and the fundamental concerns of the law of lawyering—competence, confidentiality, and conflicts of in-terest. Professor Cohen applies an approach he previously developed based on the potential for collusive behavior in agency relationships to il-lustrate how the presence of multiple lawyers can exacerbate problems already inherent in this situation. Professor Cohen concludes with the hope that with the architecture developed in this article, multilawyered problems can receive the examination and coverage not accomplished by the Ethics 2000 revisions.