March 1964

CONFLICTING INTERESTS – TEX FORECLOSURE – REPRESENTING ADVERSE PARTIES AFTER FULL DISCLOSURE. A delinquent tax attorney may not bring a tax suit against Y and others and represent Y in negotiations with other defendant.

Canon 6.


A county's delinquent tax attorney, L, is engaged in filing suits culminating in tax sales. Y, one of several heirs owning undivided interests in a tract of land, seeks to employ L for the purpose of negotiating with other heirs so that Y may purchase their interest and consolidate ownership. All parties would understand that L will prosecute the tax suit to final judgment against Y and any remaining owners and will hold a tax sale so as to collect the taxes. All parties will be informed of the heirs' right of redemption and to excess funds received at the tax sale. Is L disqualified to represent Y?


The committee is not sure it fully understands the procedure contemplated in the foreclosure, but apparently it is contemplated that L will be representing the county as plaintiff and Y who is a defendant. While Canon 6 authorizes an attorney to represent conflicting interest with consent of all parties after full disclosure, Canon 6 does not contemplate that an attorney can represent both a plaintiff and a defendant in or in regard to a given lawsuit. Such representation would inevitably lead to difficulties, and the very appearance of counsel representing the interests of a plaintiff and a defendant seems improper. "The Canon does not sanction representation of conflicting interests in every case where such consent is given, but merely forbids it except in such cases." Drinker, Legal Ethics (1953) 120. (9-0.)