16 Sep 08

I was just thinking about all the conflict checking systems I’ve ever managed and don’t recall any system or process which screens vendors who provide services to the firm.

Imagine a firm’s service provider is named as an opposing party in a major litigation case.

Of course there are all kinds of possibilities that this wouldn’t really cause a conflict, but when a conflict system doesn’t provide that information it can’t even be considered by the “powers that be”.

Imagine that your firm uses an IT solution like… Postini (web based software that scans all incoming email for signal/signs/known spam). Granted, I don’t know exactly how Postini (now owned by Google) works, but I do know that it sees all my email. Now imagine that your firm is handling an anti-trust case against them. Who’s to say they won’t be reading your emails and attachments? Ahhh yes, in order for something like this to happen that would have to mean that your service provider was unethical.

Second piece of hypothetical, is it normal practice at any firm for the IT Manager (or staff) to consider responding to conflict checks about products and services the firm uses? Who else in the firm would know all the hundreds of IT solutions that run our infrastructure? I think it’s quite likely that we assume that if we use a vendor’s product or services this means it can’t possibly be a conflict.

Well, even though ALL of our attorneys are ethical, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to implement proper conflict procedures and protections for our clients.

Is this an issue that has been discussed and solve elsewhere? Am I being naive (admittedly, quite possible)?

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