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Law firms routinely check for conflicts of interest before taking new business.  Those of us responsible for running the reports walk a fine line:  you want to include everything an attorney may need to know to decide whether or not a conflict exists, but the attorney doesn't want to take the time to plow through a massive conflict report.  How do you categorize the names in your conflicts database to limit the number of hits in your conflicts searches?

Sometimes we include only names linked to open/active matters.  And we distinguish between "client" and "adverse," so the attorney suing company A would get a report listing hits where company A is a client, but not where they're adverse.  We do this using a coded field called "Relationship Code,"  which defines how a name is linked to a given matter.

The codes we use are: client, potential client, adverse, potential averse, and other.  (Other is a category that the attorney for a matter can supply for an entity currently on the sidelines but which may become involved along the way; they are not included as hits.)

What categories do you use, or what other methods do you use to limit the size of your conflict reports?  Do you have a category for "Other," and if so do you include them as hits?  On a related note, are there any non-legal professional-services firms that have a formal conflict-checking system?

Gary L. Grieme
Records Manager
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
Minneapolis, MN
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