One of the golden rules of being a solicitor is to avoid conflict. That is, representing one client when there has already been contact with the other side.
Conflict needs to be established very early on in any legal proceedings, as a lawyer can only legally and ethically represent a client if there are no conflicting interests. This means that clients have to divulge their real name, that of their partner and details of any family and lovers that are also involved in the case. This way a lawyer can run through their client history and rule out conflict before moving on with the case.
In the world of divorce law it is not as simple as not being able to represent one spouse, as the other spouse has already been in contact. There are also families, step-families and lovers to consider. A divorce lawyer would not be able to provide representation to a client if the lover of the spouse had sought advice.
Due to the confidentiality around clients a divorce lawyer can not divulge reasons surrounding conflict. They can not say who it is that has sought advice and what the advice was about. This can lead to great suspicion and mistrust for the poor client who then has to find a new lawyer.
It is something that can not be avoided and something that needs to be taken seriously. It is a very unfortunate position for both the client and the lawyer if a conflict does arise. From a client’s perspective it is important not to jump to conclusions and to move on swiftly, as there are so many different scenarios in which a conflict can arise. From a lawyer’s perspective it is important that they have all the correct details and names as early on as possible so they can rule out conflict and move on confidently with the case.