Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: Attorneys Must Install Conflict Check Systems
Despite the fact of memory's faults having been proven over many
generations (especially during this season . . . am I right,
fellas?: 'What do you mean you didn't buy me flowers for
Valentine's Day?'), a significant number of attorneys still
use it as their primary method for running conflict checks. I've
heard all the excuses: 'I have a great memory. I never
forget anything.' . . . 'I know literally all of
my clients.' . . . 'I know everybody in town.'
Perhaps the last is a vestige of small-town lawyering; but, I still
hear it -- even today.
The plain fact of the matter, however, is that memory is not an
effective conflict checking system. And, given the ease of
electronic recordkeeping these days, there is no excuse for
avoiding the application of better methods, save for illegitimate
reasons of stubbornness, acute insensitivity to risk and those
delusions of grandiose memory-related skills. Even if you're using
something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your
clients and to search for potential conflicts, that's better than
nothing, and certainly better than relying on your memory. And,
while an effective Excel spreadsheet may work, there are more
robust options available. You can access more features, and
integration with other of your applications, by using contact
management functionality built-in to your email or your practice
management software. All you're really doing is creating a list of
contacts with a global search capability built-in; and, that can be
accomplished simply (spreadsheet) or in a more complex, connected
way (e-mail/practice management software). In order to capture as
much information as possible, include related parties and adverse
parties (so identified) in your contact list/conflict check system,
and be sure to ask your potential clients about maiden names and
And, don't forget, gentlemen . . . Monday is Valentine's Day.
Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Practice Management
Office Management Assistance Program.
Published February 10, 2011
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