Informal Opinion Number: 2017-03

Adoption Date: 2017

Rules: 4-1.7
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Conflict of Interest: Current Clients
Subject: Conflict of Interest - Current Client; Guardian ad Litem - Lawyer Serving As
Summary: lawyer serving as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and counsel for the same individual

Question: In a child abuse and neglect case, may Attorney serve as guardian ad litem for a Father where Attorney is also counsel for Father’s duly appointed guardian?
Answer: First, if the best interests of Father as asserted by Guardian are inconsistent with the best interests of Father as identified and asserted by Attorney as guardian ad litem, the simultaneous service presents a direct adversity conflict of interest per Rule 4-1.7. The conflict would not be one to which Father could consent under the circumstances. See Rule 4-1.7, Comment [15]. Second, the duties and powers of a guardian ad litem and the duties and powers of a guardian of a person are defined and enumerated at law. Therefore, this office cannot issue an informal opinion as to whether Attorney’s obligation at law to Father as guardian ad litem would materially limit Attorney’s ability to represent Guardian, or vice versa, constituting a material limitation conflict of interest under Rule 4-1.7.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

To request an Informal Opinion, please visit: https://mo-legal-ethics.org/for lawyers/requesting-an-informal-advisory-opinion/.

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