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The current version of La. St. Bar art. XVI, R. 1.11(a), (c) requires the party moving for disqualification to show either that the former government attorney participated "personally and substantially" in a previous "matter" or that the attorney actually possesses confidential government information. La. St. Bar art. XVI, R. 1.11(a), (c), and (e).
Plaintiff former employee brought an action against defendants, her city employer and the mayor in his official capacity, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq., and Louisiana's anti-employment discrimination statute. Defendants filed a motion to disqualify the employee's counsel because of his previous employment as an assistant city attorney for the city created a conflict of interest.
Should the employee’s counsel be disqualified because of his previous employment as an assistant city attorney for the city?
The court found that defendants failed to meet their burden for disqualification. The court concluded that La. St. Bar art. XVI, R. 1.9(a), regarding the representation of an adverse interest from a previous client, did not apply because any conflict between a former government attorney and his former employer was governed by La. St. Bar art. XVI, R. 1.11, which required non-representation only if the attorney participated personally and substantially in the matter. To hold otherwise, rendered Rule 1.11 superfluous. The attorney's cursory involvement in the previous grievance by being copied on correspondence did not rise to the level of personal and substantial participation. Finally, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:1121(C) was inapplicable even though the attorney commenced his representation of the employee within two years of his government service because the attorney's limited involvement in the previous matter did not constitute personal participation within the meaning of the statute.