Researching conflicts for law firms has been a function that has been around for many years now and lives in different departments depending on the law firm. But I only recently heard of Conflicts Information Specialist as being a full-time position. I am therefore thankful that Amanda Brooks has kindly shared her experiences as a Conflicts Information Specialist in a Canadian law firm over on the INALJ (“I need a library job”) website in the blog post A Day in the Life of a Conflicts Information Specialist.
Brooks discusses the role of the Conflicts Information Specialist:
The purpose of a Conflicts Information Specialist is to ensure that lawyers do not take on cases which create a conflict of interest with any current or previous work by other lawyers. A conflict of interest is when working with a client has given the law firm an unfair advantage in legal cases which are adverse in interest to that client. At its simplest level, lawyers from the same law firm cannot take on opposing sides in the same case but they should also not act for the competitors of major clients of the firm. It is unfeasible for lawyers to talk to all of their colleagues to figure out if there is a potential problem and some cases are completely confidential. That is where the Conflicts Information Specialist comes in.
In addition for checking for conflicts, her team also works on the file opening process for new clients. They ensure correct metadata is added to new client files, presumably to assist with future conflict searches in addition to other processes.
I was surprised to learn she is one in a team of five, and that they regularly rotate roles on a monthly basis. I like this idea: it cross-trains everyone so that everyone knows the full process and would also help prevent boredom in an individual role. Presumably this also means their workflows are streamlined so that they can easily take over from one another.