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Conflicts Checks for Law Clerks

Lawyers often lose clients or are conflicted out of work because of conflicts of interest.

But what about law clerks?
Can what you do as a law clerk have an impact on the work that you do as a lawyer? Absolutely. Before you are hired -- even as a law clerk -- expect to be asked to produce information about legal and other work that you have done.

Be Prepared As you begin to do both paid and volunteer legal work, keep track of the names of the clients for whom you work and the issues on which you are working. Work as a clerk on one side of any matter -- litigation or transactional -- can keep you from being hired by a firm or agency working on the other side or on collateral issues.

Although rare, in some cases, working as a clerk on completely unrelated matters can preclude you from working at a firm doing work that is adverse to an employers' clients or issues. On occasion, work done before law school -- in a technical setting, for example -- can preclude hiring. Avoid embarrassment by being honest with prospective employers. In addition, your timely candor about potential conflicts can help everyone create a conflict-free place for you in a department or office walled off from potential conflicts.

Remember, the right to waive the conflict belongs to the client, not to the lawyers for whom you worked or those for whom you hope to work

Expect to receive a conflicts request from prospective employers before you accept an offer. You will be asked for a list of clients and matters on which you have worked. Of course, it's easier if you have kept a running list of your work. If you haven't done so, you may ask your previous employers for a client and matter list for a conflicts checks.