June 1964

CONFLICTING INTERESTS—DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN TWO CLIENTSWhen the interests of two clients of a law firm become divergent in regard to the matter being handled by the firm, the law firm may not represent one client against the other.

Canon 6.


H died in Arkansas, where his will was probated by the Arkansas firm of North & East. The Texas firm of West & South handled the Texas ancillary proceeding. H's children, Ha and Ho, were the executors in Texas as well as in Arkansas. All claims have been paid and the estate is ready to be closed. Ha and one devisee disagree with Ho and two devisees as to the method of settlement and distribution. West & South agree with the position taken by Ha; may they represent Ha and the one devisee against Ho and the other devisees in forcing settlement and distribution of the estate?


No. West & South, having represented Ho as well as Ha in the Texas proceeding, may not represent in connection therewith any interest adverse either to Ho or Ha. See Canon 6 and A.B.A. Opinion 167 (1937). Drinker, Legal Ethics 112 says, "When the interests of clients diverge and become antagonistic, their lawyer must be absolutely impartial between them, which, unless they both or all desire him to represent them both or all, usually means that he may represent none of them." (9-0)