Conflicted Identities: The Battle Over the Duty of Loyalty in Canada

Legal Ethics, Forthcoming

Conflict of interest has been a leading issue in the Canadian legal profession over the last three decades, and it shows no sign of abating. No other issue has so consistently and dramatically dominated both the practice of law and its regulation in Canada. This article describes the conceptual and public battles that have been fought over conflicts of interest in Canada during this time. These battles reveal deeper ontological divisions about the practice of law in Canada. The clash over conflicts of interest exposes competing conceptions of what it means to be a lawyer in Canada in the twenty-first century and how the legal profession should be governed. The conflicts of interest debate increasingly centres on the idea of ‘lawyer loyalty’ — the duty of loyalty owed by lawyers to their clients.

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