In most circumstances, it is unethical for an attorney to represent two parties to a transaction or dispute. That's because the lawyer has a legal obligation to protect his or her client's interests, and it's difficult-if not impossible-to do that when you're representing two parties whose interests are in conflict. There are, however, limited circumstances when a real estate attorney can represent both the seller of a property and the buyer.
According to the legal profession's Model Rules of Professional Conduct:
"[A] lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or (2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer."
The rules, however, go on to say:
"[A] lawyer may represent a client if: (1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client; (2) the representation is not prohibited by law; (3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and (4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing."
These rules are designed to protect the interests of clients, such as those who are buying or selling real estate. Before deciding to hire the same attorney who's representing the party on the other side of your real estate transaction, ask yourself why you're doing it. Are there no other qualified real estate lawyers in the area? Are you hoping to save money? Are you having difficulty finding a real estate attorney to hire?
LawyerLocator can help connect you with local real estate attorneys, so you don't agree to share an attorney and sign a conflict waiver just because you don't know of any lawyers. Our attorney referral service is fast, it's free and you're under no obligation to hire the attorney.
Visit LawyerLocator to learn more about real estate law or to locate a real estate attorney in your area.