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RPC 56

April 14, 1989

Representation of Insurer and Insureds

 

Opinion rules that a lawyer may represent a plaintiff against an insurance company's insured while defending other persons insured by the company in unrelated matters.

 

Inquiry:

 

May Attorney A represent Client B if suit will have to be filed against Defendant Z, who is insured by Insurance Company, if Attorney A is currently defending a number of unrelated matters for Insurance Company and its insureds?

 

Will the answer change if Attorney A is representing Insurance Company, which is named as a defendant in an unrelated lawsuit?

 

Opinion:

 

(1) While Attorney A owes some duty of loyalty to Insurance Company in cases in which Attorney A defends insureds of Insurance Company, the insureds, rather than the Insurance Company, are considered to be Attorney A's primary clients. See ABA Informal Opinion 822 (1965). Accordingly, Attorney A may represent Client B, even though Client B anticipates filing suit against an insured of Insurance Company and even though Attorney A routinely defends other insureds of Insurance Company.

 

(2) Where Insurance Company is a named defendant in a case handled by Attorney A, Attorney A should not agree to represent Client B in a suit against an insured of Insurance Company unless Attorney A reasonably believes that the representation will not adversely affect the interest of Insurance Company and both Client B and Insurance Company consent to the multiple representation after full disclosure of all the risks involved. See Rule 5.1(a).

 

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