Transferring Between Law Firms

If you are transferring to a firm, or operate a firm and have someone transfer into it, you will need to be aware of the rules governing transfer between firms. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to read the provisions of the Code of Conduct that apply.  Note, among others, the following provisions:
  • a "matter" refers to the case or client file, but not offering general know-how; (See rule 3.4-17 of the Code of Conduct);
  • “confidential information” means information not generally known to the public that is obtained from a client; and
  • “client” includes anyone who having consulted a lawyer, reasonably concluded that the lawyer has agreed to render legal services on his or her behalf.
The rules regarding transfers between law firms, see rules 3.4-17 to 3.4-23, are triggered when a lawyer moves from one law firm to another and either the transferring lawyer or the new firm is aware or later discovers that either:
  • the new law firm represents a client in a matter that is the same as or related to a matter in which the former law firm represents or represented a client;
  • the interests of those clients in that matter conflict; and
  • the transferring lawyer actually possesses relevant information respecting that matter;
  • it is reasonable to believe the transferring lawyer has confidential information relevant to the new law firm’s matter for its clients.
The purpose of this rule is to deal with actual knowledge, although, the inference may be drawn that lawyers working together in the same firm will share confidences on the matters on which they are working, such that actual knowledge may be presumed.