Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019) defines conflict of interest as:
- A real or seeming incompatibility between the interests of two of a lawyer’s clients, such that the lawyer is disqualified from representing both clients if the dual representation adversely affects either client or if the clients do not consent. See Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 1.7(a) (2013).
Conflict of interest can also include, in the legal representation context, as actions of one’s attorney that exploit the attorney-client relationship for the lawyer’s personal benefit or to the client’s detriment.
So, unless one could somehow show that your attorney hugging your husband in court somehow harming your case or benefiting your attorney at your expense, I don’t see how your attorney hugging your spouse would be a conflict of interest.
It may be awkward or in bad taste from under some circumstances, but a conflict of interest? Not likely.
If the hug raises suspicions as to whether there is a relationship between your husband and your attorney that is itself a conflict of interest, that would not mean that the hug itself is itself an act constituting a conflict of interest.
Each state is different in the way it sets its code of attorney ethics, but the American Bar Association has a model code that many states either adopt or adapt. Here are the three main rules governing conflicts of interest from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct:
Rule 1.7: Conflict of Interest: Current Clients
Rule 1.8: Current Clients: Specific Rules
Rule 1.10: Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule
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(10) Eric Johnson’s answer to Is it a conflict of interest and is it unethical if I saw my divorce attorney hug my husband in court? – Quora