MN ttorney disqualification, conflict of interest

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: MN attorney disqualification, conflict of itnerest.

State of Minnesota, et al., v. 3M Company. MN attorney disqualification, conflict of itnerest

The Minnesota Supreme Court held:

1. The attorney, independent of the client, had standing to appeal When a district court disqualifies an attorney based upon a conflict of interest.

2. When deciding whether matters are substantially related under Minnesot Rule of Professional Conduct 1.9(a), the district court must assess whether there is a substantial risk that confidential factual information that ordinarily would have been obtained in the prior representation would materially advance the current client’s position in the subsequent matter. This inquiry requires an analysis of the extent to which the factual and legal issues in the two representations overlap and an examination of other relevant circumstances, including whether confidential information provided to the attorney in the prior representation subsequently has been disclosed to the public and whether that information has been rendered obsolete by the passage of time.

3. The right to seek disqualification under Rule 1.9 is subject to waiver.

4. If a district court finds a violation of Rule 1.9(a), attorney disqualification is required, unless the moving party otherwise is barred from seeking disqualification.

Nos. A12-1856 and A12-1857 (Minn. April 30, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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