Summary: Lawyer represents a joint venture AB, consisting of A and B, in certain litigation and also represents A individually. Lawyer inquires whether she may represent third party C in a suit against B that is unrelated to the business of AB. Before taking C’s case, Lawyer must first determine whether, in the course of representing AB, she has either established an attorney-client relationship with B individually or has undertaken a fiduciary duty to B that would preclude suing B. If she represents B, or has such a fiduciary duty to B, Lawyer may not bring a suit against B on behalf of C without obtaining the consent of both B and C.
Next, Lawyer must consider whether bringing suit against B might impair her ability to represent AB in the pending litigation by undermining her ability to obtain B’s cooperation in the suit. Lawyer must also consider whether pursuing C’s claim might require attachment of B’s interest in AB and thus involve impermissible use of AB’s confidential information. Finally, Lawyer must consider whether C’s lawsuit against B might have such an impact on the financial interests of AB or A that her representation of C would be materially limited. If any of these possibilities seem likely, Lawyer cannot undertake the proposed representation without meeting the consent and reasonableness requirements of Rule 1.7(b)(1) and (2).