What if one lawyer represented both sides?

In my four years as a broker with Long & Foster in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, only once did I complete a transaction while simultaneously representing the buyer and the seller of my listing.

The practice is known as dual agency; that is, the broker is the agent of both buyer and seller.  It is a little bit like having a single lawyer representing both complainant and respondent in the same trial.  And that would never happen.

In the D.C. area, dual agency is strongly discouraged and, in Maryland, as I recall, outlawed.  Why?  The impossibility is argued of one person being able to represent the best interests of parties on the opposite sides of a one transaction.

Conflicts of interest are virtually unavoidable.  Continue reading