Conflict of interest occurs when a person has competing interests or loyalties. In the legal field, the issue arises when an attorney represents two clients with conflicting interests without their consent. It can also take place when an attorney’s own interests negatively impact how he or she represents a client. Failure to avoid conflict of interest can lead to a legal malpractice claim, which may result in fines and sanctions.
To ensure this does not happen, some law firms employ a conflict analyst, also called “conflict specialists.” These analysts determine whether representation of a potential client will lead to a conflict of interest. Keep reading to learn more about the conflict analyst.
What Does a Conflict Analyst Do?
A conflict of interest occurs when a lawyer or law firm represents multiple clients with conflicting interests. An example of conflict of interest is a law firm representing both parties in a divorce. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, created by the American Bar Association, outlines the ethical and professional standards for lawyers. The rules address the subject of conflicts of interest and sets guidelines to prevent it from happening.
A conflict specialist’s main responsibility is determining whether a conflict of interest will occur if the law firm represents a potential client. They do this by searching their system, as well as other available sources, to check for potential conflicts. Once they complete their research, they prepare a report of their findings. In the event of a conflict, the analyst notifies the legal staff and gives recommendations on resolving the issue.
Professional Requirements to Become a Conflict Analyst
There is no postsecondary educational requirement to become a conflict analyst. However, since the job entails work in the legal field, applicants can benefit from completing a legal terminology course. It is also helpful to take courses that cover various software programs, as the job involves many administrative tasks.
Though not required, earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may improve job prospects, as some employers give preference to applicants with a postsecondary education.
Additional Educational Requirements
A Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is available for those students interested in learning more about the law, but don’t intend to become lawyers. Also, referred to as a Master of Science of Law (MSL), the degree consists of three years of full-time study.
Additional Licensing Requirements
While not required for this occupation, certification can help advance a person’s career. A voluntary legal support certification demonstrates credibility, legal knowledge, and career commitment. It can also enhance job prospects.
Where Can You Work as a Conflict Analyst
The most common place to work as a conflict analyst is a law firm. Larger firms employ multiple lawyers, which can increase the chances of conflicts of interest occurring. A person in this position will spend a large portion of their time working in an office, performing research and other administrative tasks. He or she will also meet with clients on occasion to gather information.
How do Conflict Analysts Get Paid
Generally, conflict analysts get paid an hourly wage, though some receive salary pay directly from their employer. Hourly employees receive pay for every hour worked, while salaried employees receive a set amount of annual compensation. Both hourly and salaried receive various benefits such as health insurance, vacation pay, and retirement plans.
Sometimes a conflict specialist will work on a freelance basis. In these instances, the analyst typically charges a set amount based on the complexity of the job. Freelance workers have more flexibility in their hours, but unlike employees, they do not receive additional benefits.
Conflict Analyst Salary
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups conflict analysts with legal support workers. According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for legal support workers was $56,120 (26.98/hr) in 2017.
The exact salary earned varies based on several factors such as experience and geographical location. Those employed by larger firms tend to fall on the higher end of the pay spectrum.
Employment Outlook for Conflict Analyst
The BLS predicts the employment growth rate for legal support workers to grow at a rate of approximately 11% by 2026. This growth rate is slightly faster than average for all U.S. occupations.
How to Get a Job as a Conflict Analyst
To get a job as a conflict analyst, first check reputable employment-related search engines. These search engines list jobs in all fields and you can search by occupation and location. Some of the job listings even allow you to apply online. Some employment seeking websites let applicants post their resumes in hopes of attracting employers.
To apply at larger law firms in the area, check the official website. Many have a career or employment page that list the available positions. If the firm does not have a website, visit in person to inquire about job openings. It is always a good idea to have an up-to-date resume.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or GED|
|Degree Field(s)||Legal studies, business administration, criminal justice|
|License/Certification||Voluntary certifications available|
|Key Skills||Computer, time management, research, attention to detail, written communication, verbal communication|
|Number of Jobs (2017)||44,440|
|11% growth rate (slightly faster than average growth rate)|
|Median Salary (2017)||$56,120 *|
|On the Job Training||Moderate term of on-the-job training|
|Top Earners||Top earners in the field generally work in the field of finance|
(*Source: the BLS)