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Lawyers with Alzheimer’s, Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Conundrums in The Good Wife

May 6, 2010

Tags: Alzheimer's, competence, confidentiality, conflict of interest, duty of zealous advocacy, former clients, impaired lawyer, legal writing, The Good Wife, writing tips

A recent plotline in The Good Wife bugged me so much that I did some research on the ethical conundrums it raised. When I got no satisfactory answer on my own, I did what every good writer should do – I called someone who knew what they were talking about. In this case, I used (or possibly misused) the Florida Bar’s Ethics Hotline. Most states have something similar, where lawyers can call up and get some advice when ethical issues arise. I confessed right away that I was calling about an ethical issue from a TV show, and was lucky enough to run into a lawyer on the hotline who happens to be a fan of The Good Wife. She knew exactly which two episodes I was talking about.

Confidentiality Within the Lawyer’s Firm

In the first episode that was bothering me, our heroine, a newbie lawyer, got drafted to represent a firm partner in a legal matter. In the midst of her representation, it came out that her client had Alzheimer’s. She now knows that a hotshot lawyer, a firm partner, is impaired, unable to represent clients competently, at least some of the time. Her supervisor is a different partner. The client/partner tells her that the existence of his disease is confidential, and she can’t tell anyone, even her boss. (more…)

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