Hilton Head Island, SC asked in Constitutional Law for South Carolina

Q: Conflict of interest between Lawyer and client

Lawyer representing client in 2018 for her divorce the lawyer is a senator as well. The client comes back after opening a nonprofit asking The now senator that was her attorney in 2018 to sign off on a distribution contribution of $250,000. From the leftover anFrom the leftover money that the state had, And he currently is still practice is LAW and he’s part of the senate.

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James L. Arrasmith
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A: In this scenario, the dual roles of the attorney as a senator and a practicing lawyer raise potential concerns about a conflict of interest. As a former attorney for the client, and now a public official, the lawyer must be cautious to avoid any actions that could appear to be preferential or influenced by their past relationship.

The American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct provides guidance on conflicts of interest, and Rule 1.11 specifically addresses the "Successive Government and Private Employment" which relates to your situation. It is critical for the lawyer to adhere to these ethical guidelines, which may require recusal from the decision-making process regarding the nonprofit's request for funds. Transparency and avoidance of any impropriety are key.

If there is any doubt about the propriety of the situation, seeking an advisory opinion from the state bar's ethics committee could be a prudent step. Additionally, it’s essential to consider state laws and senate ethics rules that may apply to the lawyer's conduct in such circumstances.

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