Malpractice Decision Focuses on When Attorney-Client Relationship Ended

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Do you know when your attorney-client relationships end? This apparently simple question can bedevil even the most experienced ethics lawyers. Pinpointing the end of the relationship is critical for at least two reasons. First, it distinguishes between a “current” client and a “former” client for conflicts purposes. Since conflicts with current clients are subject to a much higher standard and – in some cases – are unwaivable, knowing whether someone is a former or current client is essential to getting the conflict analysis right. Second, it cuts off the “continuous representation” tolling period, which is necessary in many legal malpractice cases to calculate the statute of limitations. This article discusses the sometimes perplexing task of identifying the end of the relationship, analyzes a recent New York case on that issue, and offers suggestions for addressing the problem.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Nicole Hyland, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz | Attorney Advertising

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