Thomas Wilkinson, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation Department, discusses the appearance of impropriety doctrine for assessing attorney conflicts of interest. The doctrine is now only used by a handful of states. The proper standard for attorney disqualification is a showing of actual conflict, according to the Kentucky Supreme Court case Marcum v. Scorsone. “The appearance standard is too subjective and amorphous to serve as a meaningful guide to assess a lawyer’s conduct or to impose the serious sanction of disqualification,” Wilkinson explains. “States can afford to do away with the appearance standard because there almost always is a specific rule on point to redress conduct that would objectively be viewed as presenting an appearance of impropriety,” he adds.
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