As a former practising lawyer, the rules on conflicts are deeply embedded in my consciousness.
Although I work for both law firms and in-house teams, I am ever-mindful of the sensitivities of professional conflicts.
Put simply, I would never act for a client if it would put me in what I can only call an awkward situation. If I ever felt I would have problems explaining to an existing client why I am working for a new client, I would know not to accept the new engagement. The question I pose to myself is simply: ‘Could I explain this, comfortably?’ If the answer is ‘no’, I would not take on the assignment.
There will always be times, more than likely in public sector/Legal Aid tendering, when it is quite possible to work for more than one law firm in the same tendering exercise. Indeed, in the past I have been asked twice to do such work by two firms bidding for work in different areas of the UK. Firms may be working in different geographical areas or have different specialisms, and the layout of the tender lots and criteria may mean there would be no conflict in acting for more than one firm. I would always handle any such issues/requests very carefully and, if working for more than one firm, would treat each bid as an individual bid in its own right. I have done this – successfully – twice in the past. Both firms won on each occasion.
I take client confidentiality extremely seriously and am happy to sign NDAs to alleviate any concerns you may have.