Law firms of all sizes rely on technology to simplify their practices. However, the increasing caseloads are still increasing exponentially, and as a result, so is the stress level of most lawyers. A new study shows that one source of this mounting stress is the lack of technology to help reduce stress. Conflicts of interest are serious in the legal profession. Although many firms have implemented policies and procedures to prevent any unethical behavior, there are no foolproof methods to eliminate attorney conflict of interest among the clients.
When a lawyer or a law firm accepts new clients, they are required by the state bar to ensure that they do not have an attorney conflict of interest with current clients. To understand why this is important, one must first look at what a legal conflict of interest is.
What is a Conflict Check System?
Lawyers have liability and fiduciary duty towards their clients to prevent them from representing any potential client that directly or indirectly has a conflict with the current clients. In other words, a lawyer can’t represent a client that has a legal conflict of interest with current or previous clients. If this happens, it leads to disqualification from representation, breach of confidentiality, and malpractice.
To avoid such situations of lawyer conflict of interest, law firms typically run conflict checks manually when a new client is onboarded against a list of former and current clients. However, manual ways of conflict-checking are not completely risk-free.
Few Common Challenges Faced by Law Firms
1. Difficulty in analyzing results before onboarding a client
If any conflicts are found, they should be evaluated to decide if they represent a genuine concern. In a thorough checking process that includes law firm conflict check software, this stage can be completely avoided as a conflict is found and it is directly sent to the teams that are responsible. any hailed results are quickly shipped off to the respective teams for further check.
2. Multiple data resources for conflict checking
A typical conflict checking involves a process of checking a firm client database to analyze whether the law firm has ever represented clients whose interests were adverse to a potential new client. A manual checking system is tedious and time-consuming, with a lot of paperwork to go through the form, a legal conflict checking system can make this process more streamlined, easy, and less time taking, and decrease the risk of errors.
3. Inefficiency due to lack of communication
In most law firms, there is not only one person who manages all the cases. Various attorneys work together on a case to bring the best possible outcome. For example, if you have someone responsible for conflict checks with clients and another person who handles the client onboarding process, they will also be responsible for managing any issues that arise from their departments. Lack of communication from both departments leads to inefficiency and errors within the law firm.
Creating a manual conflict checking system at your law firm
A conflict check is nothing but just a list of clients’ names, their case details, and other relevant information. Creating a conflict checking system in your law firm is crucial for a law firm. Creating manual conflict checking needs a support staff who can run conflict checks whenever needed. However, to maintain an effective conflict-checking process, users need to catch as detailed information as they can. At a minimum, a conflict checking database for current and former clients should include the following:
1. Client Name
2. Matter Number
3. Case Name
4. Case Number
7. Opposing Counsel
You can choose a variety of sources for conflict checking, usually, lawyers have manual systems like index cards, forms, and files arranged in alphabetical order, but a computer system can make this process easier and more simplified.
Introduction to Conflict Check Software for Law Firms
Law firms face charges and penalties if they don’t disclose any attorney conflict of interest in their firm. Not only does it bring penalties to the law firm, but also possesses a substantial risk of disqualification from representing the client in the court and charges of malpractice.
Conflict checking software for law firms is a tool designed for lawyers to address potential conflicts of interest within their former, present, and potential clients.
Benefits of Conflict Checking Software
1. Efficiency and Effortless Process
The traditional conflict-checking system usually searches lawyers’ databases and normal details regarding clients. Using a robust law practice management software that has a conflict checking feature allows users to sprint a conflict check without wasting time manually searching for details in a more detailed way and resulting in a faster and smooth flow of information.
2. Risk Management
Advanced conflict-checking software conducts a thorough check within the firm database and accelerates the entire process by locating potential conflicts and possible exposure to conflicts of interest in a firm, hence boosting firm profitability and lowering regulatory risk.
3. Speed and Accuracy Increases
Manually reading long reports leads to missing crucial information, not this but also not risk-free. With a conflict check system, speed and accuracy increase as it conducts robust all-round checks, hence giving more accuracy and far better results than manual checking. Manual checks also take up a significant amount of time from lawyers’ day. Conflict-checking software speeds up this process with advanced conflict-checking features, and additionally, you can also customize how you want your search to be conducted.
4. Reduce Liability and Save Money
Conflict check software helps you reduce liability as the automation tools conduct conflict checks, users just have to go through the reports and results in the end. When you adapt to conflict-checking software at your law firm, you don’t need additional support staff to do manual checks, hence law firm conflict check software also helps you to reduce overhead costs.
5. Easy Report Access
Conflict check systems can generate reports that are shareable through emails, client portals, and moves within your firm, so it’s easier to review and follow up with your staff. Advanced conflict checking software also can check thoroughly from different databases and pull off the details of clients and just be through friends of the firm and other relevant parties.
Nowadays, many law firms have started using legal software solutions to avoid conflicts of interest so that they can prevent conflict issues from arising in their firm. Additionally, more awareness of how important it is to prevent conflicts of interest within the clients has led to more lawyers and law firms installing conflict check software solutions. Reliable conflict check software is essential for protecting the firm’s best interests.
More than anything, a law firm conflict check will provide you with a sense of security in knowing that you are safe from liability by identifying potential conflicts of interest in advance. This can aid lawyers in making the right decisions, even if they have sincere doubts about a case, and streamline the whole conflict checking process.