Long May You Run Conflicts Checks

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Loyal readers of the Risk Tip know that I am a fan of Crosby Stills & Nash and its various iterations (CSNY, CN, SY, Y, etc.).  Some of you may even recall CSN’s collaboration with the Risk Tip (CSNRT, if you will), of which I am particularly proud.


So it was with much distress that I read about Neil Young’s announcement that CSNY would never tour together again.  Young’s comments reportedly came on the heels of David Crosby’s statements disapproving of Young’s recent divorce and subsequent hook up with Darryl Hannah.  (Because, as we know, Cros always makes the right personal choices.)

Perhaps I am making too big a deal of this.  After all, conflicts among musicians happen every day.  Some might even say that it’s a necessary element.  (Try naming a successful band that hasn’t had a serious conflict. . .  I can’t either.)

Of course, that’s where musicians and lawyers differ and that’s why law firms have conflicts checking systems.  But conflicts systems are only as good as the information that lawyers and professionals provide.  So keep the following conflicts checking tips in mind as you undertake new client work:

1) Provide complete information.  Lawyers should provide full, complete and correct information and a matter description that really conveys the work that is being taken on. Identify all involved parties.

2) Update party information.   As a matter progresses, additional parties might become involved.  Conflicts analysts have no way of knowing that unless they are told.  Examples include:  a new party to an ongoing litigation (on either side); an added or changed lender in a financing;  even a party name change following a merger or other transaction.

3) Subpoenas.  Lawyers might think that they don’t have to run a conflicts check before serving a subpoena on a third party because it is not adverse.  Try explaining that to a client who now has to retain outside counsel to search for and collect massive amounts of responsive documents and electronically stood information.

Musicians, of course, don’t have to worry about violating the Rules of Professional Conduct ( imagine!),  so they usually manage to work their conflicts out without these procedures.  Such is my hope for CSNY.  Long may they run.