Under what circumstances is a law firm permitted to represent one municipality against another municipality that was a former client of the law firm? Would screening lawyers who had been involved in representation of the former client have an effect on the law firm’s eligibility to undertake the proposed representation against the former client?
Municipality A and Municipality B are involved in a controversy that they expect to result in litigation. Municipality A proposes to hire a lawyer employed by Firm C. Firm C had previously represented Municipality B in a matter unrelated to the current controversy. The lawyer in Firm C that Municipality A wishes to hire did no work for Municipality B in the prior matter. Firm C proposes to screen all lawyers who had previously worked on the prior unrelated matter for Municipality B so that these lawyers will not participate in Firm C’s proposed representation of Municipality A. When asked to consent to Firm C’s representation of Municipality A in the current controversy, Municipality B declined to give such consent. The dispute between the municipalities does not involve the validity of the services or work product of Firm C in the prior representation of Municipality B.
Tex. Comm. On Professional Ethics, Op. 578 (2007)