Social Services Law Bulletin #48

Ethical Dilemmas in Client Representation for DSS Attorneys

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Attorneys who perform legal services on behalf of a county department of social services in North Carolina face a unique set of issues with respect to client representation. Does a DSS attorney represent DSS, the DSS director, DSS employees, the DSS board, or the county itself? What happens when those parties have conflicting interests? What are the implications of a DSS attorney’s client also being the attorney’s supervisor? For DSS attorneys, determining the identity of the client and the scope of representation has implications for decision-making in litigation and advising, reporting malfeasance, protecting the attorney-client privilege, and evaluating conflicts. This bulletin discusses how the Rules of Professional Conduct of the North Carolina State Bar can guide DSS attorneys in making these determinations.

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Topics - Courts and Judicial Administration
Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
Topics - Local and State Government