Whether Big-sized or mid-sized law firms, everyone needs tech to simplify their legal services. However, the increasing caseloads are still increasing exponentially, resulting in increased stress levels. 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 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 a 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.
To make it simpler, a lawyer can’t represent a client that has a legal conflict of interest with any 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 responsible teams. Any hailed results are quickly shipped off to the respective teams for further check.
2. Multiple data resources for conflict checking
A typical conflict check involves a process of checking a law firm’s client database to analyze whether the law firm has ever represented clients whose interests were adverse to a new potential client. A manual checking system is tedious and time-consuming, with a lot of paperwork to go through the form. A legal conflict check system can make this process more streamlined, easy, and less time taking in order to 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.
Creating a manual Conflict Check 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 check system in your law firm is crucial for smooth law firm management. Creating a manual conflict check system needs a support staff who can run conflict checks whenever needed. However, to maintain an effective conflict-check process, users need to catch as detailed information as they can. At a minimum, a conflict check database for current and former clients should include the following:
- Client Name
- Matter Number
- Case Name
- Case Number
- Opposing Counsel
You can choose a variety of sources for conflict checks, 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 court and charges of malpractice.
Conflict check 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-check system usually searches lawyers’ databases and usual client details. Using a robust law firm management software that has a conflict check feature allows users to sprint through 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-check 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, creating space for risks and errors. 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-check software speeds up this process with advanced conflict-check 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-check software, you don’t need additional support staff to do manual checks. Hence law firm conflict check software also helps you reduce overhead costs.
5. Easy Report Access
Conflict check systems can generate reports that are shareable through emails, and client portals, within your firm. So it’s easier to review and follow up with your staff on a timely basis. Advanced conflict check software can also check thoroughly from different databases and pull client details.
Law firms have started using legal billing 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 implementing conflict check software solutions.
More than anything, conflict check will provide you 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 taking the right decisions, even if they have sincere doubts about a case, and streamline the whole conflict check process.