Karen E. Boxx and Philip N. Jones, Janus as a Client: Ethical Obligations When Your Client Plays Two Roles in One Fiduciary Estate, 44 ACTEC L.J. 223 (2019), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/531
ACTEC Law Journal
Is it possible for an attorney to have a conflict of interest when the attorney represents a trustee who is also a beneficiary of the trust? Is that situation similar to having two clients? What if the trustee is not only a beneficiary, but also a claimant against the trust? Since the trustee has three roles to play, is that situation similar to an attorney having three clients? The issue presented by these potential conflicts was one of the most vexing for the drafters of the Fifth Edition of the ACTEC Commentaries. The range of possible approaches goes from a requirement that a separate lawyer is needed for each role to a view that a client with multiple roles can rely on one lawyer. This article examines the various court and ethics opinions, considers the arguments for the different approaches, and recommends best practices for attorneys when their clients have such conflicts.