With increased growth and mobility in the legal profession, attorney conflicts of interest have also grown, such that a lawyer and his or her firm may have to address the ethical problem of a conflict of interest between two of its current clients or between a current and former client. As the potential for conflicts and motions to disqualify have increased, the courts have struggled to formulate workable rules to deal with conflicts of interest. On the one hand, the courts must balance the protection of client confidences; on the other, the courts must recognize the expectations of a subsequent client and the changed nature of legal employment. Most courts have done so by creating conflicts of interest rules that are increasingly flexible and fact driven. The Nebraska Supreme Court, however, has chosen to deal with the problem of increasing conflicts of interest by articulating a rigid, bright-line rule that generally favors disqualification. This new rule has significant implications for the legal profession, the courts, and the public. In Part II, this Note provides an overview of the doctrines underlying imputed or vicarious disqualification. Next, in Part III, it addresses the facts of the Nebraska Supreme Court decisions in Nebraska ex rel. Freezer Services, Inc. v. Mullen, Nebraska ex rel. Firs-Tier Bank, N.A. v. Buckley, and Nebraska ex rel. Creighton University v. Hickman. Part IV provides an overview of how other jurisdictions deal with imputed disqualification, and Part V examines how the Nebraska rule is unique in light of approaches from other jurisdictions. Finally, Part VI highlights the problems created by the Nebraska rule, and Part VII advocates steps that should be taken to remedy these flaws.
Karen A. Haase,
You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave: Attorney Conflict of Interest and Imputed Disqualification under Nebraska's New Bright Line Rule,
74 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol74/iss1/5