Here’s the tough part – you’d better be sure which Principal’s office is the correct one. In my prior post, I discussed Principals and Agents from the perspective of both. But this one is for attorneys; and again, I feel this is relevant in the arena of e-discovery because there will be corporations – and individual custodians – involved.
The Wall Street Journal posted this article about a case which serves as a cautionary tale of what may happen when attorneys endeavor to serve multiple masters (note: you may be required to register, but it’s free). Ironically, it involves Broadcom (which we know has been at the hub of some very ground-breaking case law involving e-discovery sanctions).
The issue here is that executives were unsure of exactly who their attorneys were representing. The attorneys represented the corporation, but apparently did not make it clear that they did not represent the executives as well; and I think most of you can understand the inherent conflict of interest that could potentially develop if the interests of both diverge.
This was a critical part of ethics (Professional Responsibility) class in law school and on the bar exam. The graders wanted to make absolutely sure we knew at all times who our particular client was when representing a corporation. As stated above, it’s the corporation, not you. If you think you’re in jeopardy, there’s no middle ground; you must retain your own attorney to protect your interests.
Irell & Manella LLP failed to properly make this distinction clear – and the judge is making them stay after school.