Today we started to discuss conflicts of interest in my class. As we tried to define the concept I asked the students if it makes sense to talk about "potential conflicts" and tried to get them to understand that having a conflict is, in and of itself, a violation of a duty to the client.
Interestingly, over at the Legal Ethics Forum, four law professors recently exchanged views on this. NYU's Stephen Gillers started it off by using an example from journalism ethics saying that "if there is an appearance of a conflict there is an actual conflict. If the reporter succumbs to the conflict by favoring the clients of the speakers bureau, that's not a conflict. It's a breach of trust." Also, Hofstra's Monroe Freedman commented on the shameful way courts approach conflicts in criminal cases Read the rest of the conversation here.