Can an Attorney Represent a Family Member?

Yes, lawyers can help family members in court.

But, it might be tricky because the lawyer needs to stay fair and not let personal feelings get in the way when family is involved.

An Image of a Lawyer Representing a Relative
Can a Lawyer Represent a Family Member? Photo Source (Freepik)

Can an Attorney Represent a Family Member?

If someone in your family is a lawyer, you might get legal advice for free or at a low cost.

But can a lawyer represent their own family in or out of court?

It’s tricky because the personal connection could make it hard for the lawyer to give fair and honest legal advice.

Even though they might feel obligated to help a family member, they also need to be loyal to their profession.

Before saying “yes” to a family member’s request for help, the lawyer should think about the challenges and responsibilities involved in representing their own relatives.

The Possibility of Conflict of Interest

While authorities generally don’t ban lawyers from representing family members, they stress the need for skills and caution to avoid negligence.

The American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct addresses conflicts of interest but doesn’t specify when a lawyer can represent the family in legal matters.

Some legal organizations provide more details such as allowing lawyers to advise friends, family, and others they know.

While defending a family member or close friend doesn’t automatically create a conflict, it is better to refrain if the relationship is too close and the issue is contentious.

In some states, attorneys must be honest and can’t practice if there’s a chance of a conflict of interest.

When Can A Lawyer Pick and Represent Their Family Member as A Client?

It’s generally acceptable for a lawyer to represent their family if they’re an expert in the field and the work doesn’t involve potential family-related issues.

For example, if a lawyer is known for handling DUI cases in the neighborhood, representing a family member in such a case is considered acceptable.

Similarly, if the work involves accessing government systems or registration, there typically shouldn’t be any problems.

For instance, someone experienced in real estate can handle legal matters associated with purchasing a home for a relative.

The key is to avoid abusive litigation, especially when family interests are at stake.

If a family member wrongly tries to fight a custody issue, it raises concerns about the lawyer’s impartiality and independence.

As A Lawyer, Picking and Representing Family Members Is A High-stakes Venture

When is it risky for a lawyer to represent family or friends?

It’s crucial to note that professional liability insurance may not cover a lawyer working for family members.

For instance, specific exclusions mean that claims resulting from errors benefiting the lawyer, their family, or the law firm are not covered.

Family members include partners, children, parents, and siblings.

If a lawyer settles a family member’s personal injury claim but is later sued for mishandling the case, the lawsuit might not be compensated because the family member benefits from the settlement.

Defending relatives and friends can also be risky if it involves taking on cases outside the lawyer’s expertise just to be helpful.

Even if a lawyer lacks experience in a specific area of law, they might be asked to represent a family member. However, lawyers generally should avoid venturing into unfamiliar legal territory.

What Should A Lawyer Do to Represent a Family Member?

When a family member seeks legal representation, it’s best for the lawyer to politely decline due to rules in many large companies against representing friends or family.

Instead, they can seek assistance from other legal specialists by referring the family member to another firm.

It’s essential to be open about the situation, explaining the need for the family member to consult an experienced attorney.

Providing directions to reliable legal information websites and suggesting specific lawyers is more helpful.

Conclusion

While lawyers can assist family members in legal matters, complexities arise due to the need for fairness and avoiding biases.

The article stresses the potential conflicts of interest and challenges when lawyers represent families, emphasizing loyalty to the profession.

It discusses the risks, and lack of insurance coverage, and advises lawyers to decline to represent family members.

The key message is to navigate such situations with caution, prioritizing professionalism and ethical considerations.

Further Reading!