Lexpert Magazine

September 2019

Lexpert magazine features articles and columns on developments in legal practice management, deals and lawsuits of interest in Canada, the law and business issues of interest to legal professionals and businesses that purchase legal services.

Issue link: http://digital.carswellmedia.com/i/1163340

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Page 19 of 39

24 LEXPERT MAGAZINE | Q3 2019 I t used to be when a lawyer was going to meet with general counsel, they were going to see a client. Today, it may just as easily be someone at their own firm. With risk management increasingly fraught, avoiding client conflicts is key. Many law firms now have dedicated general counsel to review the terms of en- gagement letters, which include conflict provisions, and advise partners on nego- tiating waivers where appropriate. "Client conflicts are probably one of the greatest risk-management issues for a law firm," says Terry Burgoyne, general counsel at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. "We deal with it daily, and the vast majority are easily resolved. But if one gets it wrong, it can have a number of implications. It can have a real liability impact, and some firms have stumbled on that. And, more importantly, it can have an impact on client relations." ere are two types of client conflicts, he says. One is where there is a straight legal conflict: e firm can't act for both sides on an adversarial issue. e other is a business conflict where, for example, the firm takes on a new client who competes with an existing client, but to advise them in an entirely different practice area. "While there's no strict legal conflict, there's an issue that would require us to choose between one engagement or the other, or turn down a new engagement because it may make a very good client unhappy." PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK AS CLIENTS BECOME MORE SOPHISTICATED, LAW FIRMS ARE CHALLENGED TO KEEP UP ON CLIENT CONFLICTS By Sandra Rubin TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

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