Risk Update

Conflicts & Laterals — Texas Looking to Lower Lateral Conflicts with Electronic Ethical Walls, Conflicts Concerns Over Firm Selection in Tennessee

Texas Bar Hopes to Get in Line With Nation on Conflict Rule for Attorneys” —

  • “One of 12 disciplinary rules pending approval of the Texas Supreme Court would bring Texas in line with other states, and make it harder for parties to ‘conflict-out’ law firms because of who they hire.”
  • “A rule titled ‘Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule,’ also known as the “screening rule,” was approved by 80.36% of the voting bar members in their April referendum. It is now under review by the high court, which is set to decide its fate by the end of summer.”
  • “In the event a client of the departed law firm looks to retain the law firm that now employs the relocated lawyer, the current rule views this as a conflict.”
  • “The argument for revising the rule comes down to technology and with it the ability through electronic management systems and other tools to screen lawyers based on whether they had actual knowledge of a case because they worked on some aspect of it, versus having just coincidentally worked at the former firm.”
  • “This type of screening is working in many other states and has been allowed to a limited extent with regard to former government lawyers moving to the private sector, Kinard said. This would be the first time it would apply to Texas law firms.”
  • “The current rule has been a problem, Kinard noted, when it comes to lawyers’ mobility since it hinders their ability to switch firms. It is a particularly thorny issue for associates.”
  • “‘Firms merge, they dissolve. These associates, especially, don’t often have much control over the changes,’ Kinard said. ‘This way, it protects the non-involved lawyers, the new law firms and the clients of the new law firm.'”

Concerns raised in how Memphis law firm was chosen for investigation into MNPD allegations” —

  • “Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell is responding to allegations that high-ranking officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department lobbied state legislators to get a law passed. That law weakened police oversight boards across the state.”
  • “O’Connell agreed to the Metro Community Review Board’s request for a third party firm to investigate the claims. However, some are already raising concerns about the process and how the independent law firm was chosen.”
  • “Mayor O’Connell announced Friday that Memphis-based Butler Snow law firm would take on the investigation into Garet’s claims, led by former U.S. attorney Edward Stanton, who had previously worked under President Obama’s administration.”
  • “The Metro Legal Department recommended Stanton, according to O’Connell. However, Metro Legal is involved in upcoming discussions between the CRB and MNPD, on what access the CRB will have to police documents under the new law, when looking into a citizen complaint over an officer.”
  • “The CRB hired its own outside, non-city attorney for those negotiations, as board members believed it would be a conflict of interest to have Metro Legal representing both MNPD and the CRB. Metro Legal has also publicly taken a similar stance as MNPD, regarding its viewpoint of the new law.”
  • “After the announcement, some are saying it’s a conflict of interest that Metro Legal helped pick the firm handling the investigation. CRB board members have told Fox 17 News that Metro Legal is, in effect, representing MNPD during upcoming negotiations, which stem from the fallout of the law at the center of the investigation.”
  • “One MTSU political professor, Sekou Franklin, posted on X, ‘I am skeptical and don’t trust this process. Reading between the lines, Metro Legal/Law Department has its hands on this investigation. Metro Legal has been against police accountability and Drake has been right there with Metro Legal.'”
  • “CRB Chair Alisha Haddock responded to FOX 17 News with a statement:
    • “We are grateful to Mayor O’Connell for stepping in and ensuring the investigation of the 61-page complaint filed by a former MNPD Lieutenant will be handled by a third party entity. Although the CRB would have liked to have had a greater role in choosing the investigative body, the CRB must be made aware of the process and progress of the investigation through its duration, as it is our duty to ensure complaints of police misconduct of any kind are taken seriously, leads to the truth, and creates a safer Nashville for everyone.”
  • “‘Mr. Stanton will oversee the investigation,’ said Metro Legal Director Wally Dietz at the press gathering. ‘It will not be just him. It will be in particular one of his partners Keenan Carter who works with him, plus other attorneys at that firm. He will oversee it. He will work in conjunction with the office of OPA It’s very possible he will make recommendations about policies which we will gladly receive and consider.'”