A Washington federal court judge ruled today that family ties among attorneys at firms on opposing sides of a case don't automatically trigger a conflict of interest.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman, ruling on a separate issue, noted that a woman suing her former employer and insurance company could not accuse Hogan Lovells attorneys who represented her pro bono of misconduct for failing to disclose that a Hogan partner is the brother of the lead counsel on the opposing side.
The firm ceased handling the woman’s case as of November 2009.
The plaintiff, who is now pursuing her claims pro se, had argued that while the Hogan partner in question, Jonathan Constine, did not work on her case, the firm still should have disclosed that his brother – David Constine III of Troutman Sanders – was serving as lead counsel for her former insurance company, Unum Provident.
Friedman disagreed, writing that D.C. Bar rules on conflict of interest among family members only apply when the attorneys in question are directly involved in the case. The rules do not extend to lawyers who also happen to work at the firm, he wrote.