San Diego attorney Charles Black has long been the man local government officials turn to for help planning a new waterfront expansion to the San Diego Convention Center. Now, he’s working for Fifth Avenue Landing, the company that holds the lease to the land vital for that type of expansion site.
Fifth Avenue landing desperately wants to revive a $14 million deal for the government to purchase their lease of public land, and Black is negotiating it.
San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez says that sounds like a conflict of interest that violates professional standards for lawyers. Attorneys are generally supposed to avoid so-called adverse interests to preserve client loyalty and independent judgement. If they do go to work on the other side of a case, lawyers must first obtain consent from the original client.
Black doesn’t deny he worked for both sides. The city holds that because Black never rendered legal services to the city – only project management work – there is no conflict.