Conflicts of Interest
When you work in the Clinical Program, the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct will apply to you. Even before you enter the Clinical Program, you must think about the rules regarding conflicts of interest. You must avoid any conflicts between clients of the Clinical Program and any clients that you may represent in any externship, paid job, volunteer work or internship.
The conflict rules regulate lawyers when they have confidential information about a client. Broadly, the rule prohibits lawyers and law firms from representing two clients whose interests may be in conflict. Because of the nature of our work, the Clinical Program is considered one law firm. Therefore, we have to make sure that all students in all of the clinics do not create conflicts for any clinic client. To be fully informed, you may want to look at the rules yourself.
- Rule 1.7 (Conflicts of Interest: Current Clients);
- Rule 1.8 (Conflicts of Interest: Current Clients: Special Rules);
- Rule 1.9 (Duties to Former Clients);
- Rule 1.10 (Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule); and
- Rule 1.11 (Special Conflict of Interest for Former and Current Government Officers and Employees).
In order to ensure that you and the other members of the Clinical Program are abiding by our ethical obligations under the Rules, we need to obtain complete information about your work outside the Clinical Program. For these purposes, work is defined broadly and would include all externships, internships, paid and volunteer jobs in legal or government capacities with all former, current and future employers (during your term in the clinic).
When you register for a clinic with the Clinical Program, you will be required to provide complete information about all former, current, and future employers. In order to ensure that you do not violate your obligations under the Rules, you have a continuing duty to keep this information current throughout your work in the clinic and to inform the Clinical Program if your employment changes. You should also check with your employer to ensure that the employer does not perceive your work with the Clinical Program as presenting a conflict with your work with the employer.
The time when this could become most complicated is when you work, or volunteer, in two law offices at the same time. This situation would arise if you are working in a legal capacity during the same semester you are in a clinic. In the event that a conflict arises between the Clinical Program a concurrent employer, you will NOT be able to drop the clinic course. So, please resolve all potential issues involving conflicts before registering for the Clinical Program.
Given the scope of work we do in the Clinical Program, potential conflicts of interest are most likely to arise with the following government offices:
- Internal Revenue Service
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Justice, Immigration Courts
- District Attorneys Offices
This is not intended to be exhaustive. Your duty to notify us of employment extends to all employers, whether on this list or not.
If you work or plan to work (in any capacity) with any of these organizations while enrolled in the Clinical Program, the Rules may prohibit your concurrent involvement in the Clinical Program, so please bring this to our attention immediately. Also, note that you are prohibited from enrolling in both a clinic and an externship during the same semester.