Preamble, Scope and Client-Lawyer Relationship, Rules - and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct. Client-Lawyer Relationship Rule Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules Rule Professional Independence of a Lawyer. Lawyer-client sexual intimacy is not specifically forbidden by the rules of . client relationships involve male lawyers with female clients Accordingly, when.
A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule, or may give informed consent to forgo security measures that would otherwise be required by this Rule. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the client's expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement.
A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to the use of a means of communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule. Whether a lawyer may be required to take additional steps to comply with other law, such as state and federal laws that govern data privacy, is beyond the scope of these Rules. Former Client  The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated.
Lawyer's Assistance Program  Information about a lawyer's or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer in the course of that lawyer's participation in an approved lawyers' or judges' assistance program. In that circumstance, providing for the confidentiality of such information encourages lawyers and judges to seek help through such programs. Conversely, without such confidentiality, lawyers and judges may hesitate to seek assistance, which may then result in harm to their professional careers and injury to their clients and the public.
The rule, therefore, requires that any information received by a lawyer on behalf of an approved lawyers' or judges' assistance program be regarded as confidential and protected from disclosure to the same extent as information received by a lawyer in any conventional client-lawyer relationship.
July 24, Amendments Approved by the Supreme Court: An attorney who, in the course of representing one spouse, obtains confidential information bearing upon the criminal conduct of the other spouse must not disclose such information. An attorney, after being discharged, cannot discuss the client's case with the client's new attorney without the client's consent.
An attorney may not voluntarily disclose confidential information concerning a client's criminal record. An attorney may not disclose the perjury of his partner's client. Information concerning apparent tax fraud obtained by an attorney employed by a fire insurer to depose insureds concerning claims is confidential and may not be disclosed without the insurer's consent.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may reveal confidential information to correct a mistake if disclosure is impliedly authorized by the client. Opinion rules that a lawyer may send a demand letter to the adverse party without identifying the client by name. Opinion rules that a lawyer may disclose information to the IRS concerning a real estate transaction which would otherwise be protected if required to do so by law, and further that notice of such required disclosure, should be given to the client and other affected parties.
Opinion rules that an attorney who learns through a privileged communication of his client's alias and prior criminal record may not permit his client to testify under a false name or deny his prior record under oath.
If the client does so, the attorney would be required to request the client to disclose the true name or record and, if the client refused, to withdraw pursuant to the rules of the tribunal. Opinion rules that an attorney may disclose client confidences necessary to protect her reputation where a claim alleging malpractice is brought by a former client against the insurance company which employed the attorney to represent the former client.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may disclose confidential information to his or her liability insurer to defend against a claim but not for the sole purpose of assuring coverage. Opinion rules that a lawyer may disclose information concerning advice given to a client at a closing in regard to the significance of the client's lien affidavit.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may not reveal confidential information concerning his client's contagious disease. Opinion rules that, for the purpose of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer may, but need not necessarily, disclose confidential information concerning child abuse pursuant to a statutory requirement. Opinion rules that a law firm may make its waste paper available for recycling. Opinion rules that a lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian for a client the lawyer believes to be incompetent over the client's objection.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may ethically exercise his or her discretion to decide whether to reveal confidential information concerning child abuse or neglect pursuant to a statutory requirement.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may not offer or enter into a settlement agreement that contains a provision barring the lawyer who represents the settling party from representing other claimants against the opposing party. Opinion rules that the attorney who formerly represented an estate may divulge confidential information relating to the representation of the estate to the substitute personal representative of the estate.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may disclose the confidential information of a deceased client to the personal representative of the client's estate but not to the heirs of the estate. Opinion provides guidelines for the disposal of closed client files. Opinion rules that when using a cellular or cordless telephone or any other unsecure method of communication, a lawyer must take steps to minimize the risk that confidential information may be disclosed.
Opinion rules that a lawyer representing a client on a good faith claim for social security disability benefits may withhold evidence of an adverse medical report in a hearing before an administrative law judge if not required by law or court order to produce such evidence.
Opinion rules that although a lawyer asks a prospective client to sign a form stating that no client-lawyer relationship will be created by reason of a free consultation with the lawyer, the lawyer may not subsequently disclaim the creation of a client-lawyer relationship and represent the opposing party.
Opinion rules that, under certain circumstances, a lawyer may not represent a party whose interests are opposed to the interests of a prospective client if confidential information of the prospective client must be used in the representation.
Opinion rules that a lawyer in receipt of materials that appear on their face to be subject to the attorney-client privilege or otherwise confidential, which were inadvertently sent to the lawyer by the opposing party or opposing counsel, should refrain from examining the materials and return them to the sender.
Opinion rules that a defense lawyer may remain silent while the prosecutor presents an inaccurate driving record to the court provided the lawyer and client did not criminally or fraudulently misrepresent the driving record to the prosecutor or the court and, further provided, that on application for a limited driving privilege, there is no misrepresentation to the court about the prior driving record. Opinion rules that an insurance defense lawyer may not disclose confidential information about an insured's representation in bills submitted to an independent audit company at the insurance carrier's request unless the insured consents.
Rule Confidentiality of Information | North Carolina State Bar
Opinion rules that a lawyer may represent a person who is resisting an incompetency petition although the person may suffer from a mental disability, provided the lawyer determines that resisting the incompetency petition is not frivolous. Opinion rules that a lawyer representing a minor owes the duty of confidentiality to the minor and may only disclose confidential information to the minor's parent, without the minor's consent, if the parent is the legal guardian of the minor and the disclosure of the information is necessary to make a binding legal decision about the subject matter of the representation.
Opinion rules that, subject to a statute prohibiting the withholding of the information, a lawyer's duty to disclose confidential client information to a bankruptcy court ends when the case is closed although the debtor's duty to report new property continues for days after the date of filing the petition. Opinion rules that an insurance defense lawyer may not submit billing information to an independent audit company at the insurance carrier's request unless the insured's consent to the disclosure, obtained by the insurance carrier, was informed.
Opinion rules that a lawyer with knowledge that a former client is defrauding a bankruptcy court may reveal the confidences of the former client to rectify the fraud if required by law or if necessary to rectify the fraud. Opinion rules that a lawyer who was formerly in-house legal counsel for a corporation must obtain the permission of a court prior to disclosing confidential information of the corporation to support a personal claim for wrongful termination.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may participate in a settlement agreement that contains a provision limiting or prohibiting disclosure of information obtained during the representation even though the provision will effectively limit the lawyer's ability to represent future claimants.
Opinion rules that an attorney may provide an accounting of disbursements of sums recovered for a personal injury claimant as required by N. Opinion rules that a lawyer may disclose confidential client information to collect a fee, including information necessary to support a claim that the corporate veil should be pierced, provided the claim is advanced in good faith. Opinion rules that absent consent to disclose from the parent, a lawyer may not reveal confidences received from a parent seeking representation of a minor.
Opinion rules that a lawyer for a publicly traded company does not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct if the lawyer "reports out" confidential information as permitted by SEC regulations.
- Amended Rules
- Professional Guidelines
Opinion rules that a lawyer who represents the employer and its workers' compensation carrier must share the case evaluation, litigation plan, and other information with both clients unless the clients give informed consent to withhold such information. Opinion rules that a lawyer may not take possession of a client's contraband if possession is itself a crime and, unless there is an exception allowing disclosure of confidential information, the lawyer may not disclose confidential information relative to the contraband.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may outsource limited legal support services to a foreign lawyer or a nonlawyer collectively "foreign assistants" provided the lawyer properly selects and supervises the foreign assistants, ensures the preservation of client confidences, avoids conflicts of interests, discloses the outsourcing, and obtains the client's advanced informed consent.
Opinion rules that lawyer representing an undocumented worker in a workers' compensation action has a duty to correct court documents containing false statements of material fact and is prohibited from introducing evidence in support of the proposition that an alias is the client's legal name. Opinion rules a lawyer may assist a pro se litigant by drafting pleadings and giving advice without making an appearance in the proceeding and without disclosing or ensuring the disclosure of his assistance to the court unless required to do so by law or court order.
Opinion rules that client files may be stored on a website accessible by clients via the internet provided the confidentiality of all client information on the website is protected. Opinion rules that, unless affected clients expressly consent to the disclosure of their confidential information, a lawyer may allow a title insurer to audit the lawyer's real estate trust account and reconciliation reports only if certain written assurances to protect client confidences are obtained from the title insurer, the audited account is only used for real estate closings, and the audit is limited to certain records and to real estate transactions insured by the title insurer.
Opinion rules that a lawyer must use reasonable care to prevent the disclosure of confidential client information hidden in metadata when transmitting an electronic communication and a lawyer who receives an electronic communication from another party or another party's lawyer must refrain from searching for and using confidential information found in the metadata embedded in the document.
Opinion rules that a lawyer has a professional obligation not to encourage or allow a nonlawyer employee to disclose confidences of a previous employer's clients for purposes of solicitation. Opinion provides guidelines for a lawyer for a party to a partition proceeding and rules that the lawyer may subsequently serve as a commissioner for the sale but not as one of the commissioners for the partitioning of the property.
Opinion rules that a lawyer may contract with a vendor of software as a service provided the lawyer uses reasonable care to safeguard confidential client information.
Opinion rules that a lawyer must obtain client consent, confirmed in writing, before outsourcing its transcription and typing needs to a company located in a foreign jurisdiction. Opinion rules that a criminal defense lawyer accused of ineffective assistance of counsel by a former client may share confidential client information with prosecutors to help establish a defense to the claim so long as the lawyer reasonably believes a response is necessary and the response is narrowly tailored to respond to the allegations.
In many instances, the required proficiency is that of a general practitioner. Expertise in a particular field of law may be required in some circumstances. A newly admitted lawyer can be as competent as a practitioner with long experience. Some important legal skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems.
Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge.
A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a wholly novel field through necessary study. Competent representation can also be provided through the association of a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.
This applies as well to a lawyer who is appointed as counsel for an unrepresented person. See also Rule 6. Thoroughness and Preparation  Competent handling of a particular matter includes inquiry into and analysis of the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners.
It also includes adequate preparation. The required attention and preparation are determined in part by what is at stake; major litigation and complex transactions ordinarily require more extensive treatment than matters of lesser complexity and consequence.
An agreement between the lawyer and the client regarding the scope of the representation may limit the matters for which the lawyer is responsible. Retaining or Contracting With Other Lawyers  Before a lawyer retains or contracts with other lawyers outside the lawyer's own firm to provide or assist in the provision of legal services to a client, the lawyer should ordinarily obtain informed consent from the client and must reasonably believe that the other lawyers' services will contribute to the competent and ethical representation of the client.
See also Rules 1. The reasonableness of the decision to retain or contract with other lawyers outside the lawyer's own firm will depend upon the circumstances, including the education, experience and reputation of the nonfirm lawyers; the nature of the services assigned to the nonfirm lawyers; and the legal protections, professional conduct rules, and ethical environments of the jurisdictions in which the services will be performed, particularly relating to confidential information.
When making allocations of responsibility in a matter pending before a tribunal, lawyers and parties may have additional obligations that are a matter of law beyond the scope of these Rules. Maintaining Competence  To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer must keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
A lawyer may take such action on behalf of the client as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation. A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.
A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law. A lawyer may counsel a client regarding West Virginia law and assist the client to engage in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is authorized by those laws.
If West Virginia law conflicts with federal law, the lawyer shall also advise the client regarding related federal law and its potential consequences. The decisions specified in paragraph asuch as whether to settle a civil matter, must also be made by the client. Clients normally defer to the special knowledge and skill of their lawyer with respect to the means to be used to accomplish their objectives, particularly with respect to technical, legal and tactical matters. Conversely, lawyers usually defer to the client regarding such questions as the expense to be incurred and concern for third persons who might be adversely affected.
Because of the varied nature of the matters about which a lawyer and client might disagree and because the actions in question may implicate the interests of a tribunal or other persons, this Rule does not prescribe how such disagreements are to be resolved.
Other law, however, may be applicable and should be consulted by the lawyer. The lawyer should also consult with the client and seek mutually acceptable resolution of the disagreement.
If such efforts are unavailing and the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement with the client, the lawyer may withdraw from the representation. Conversely, the client may resolve the disagreement by discharging the lawyer. A lawyer must comply with Rule 1. Absent a material change in circumstances and subject to Rule 1. The client may, however, revoke such authority at any time. Independence from Client's Views or Activities  Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval.
When a lawyer has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, for example, the representation may be limited to matters related to the insurance coverage.
A limited representation may be appropriate because the client has limited objectives for the representation. Such limitations may exclude actions that the client thinks are too costly or that the lawyer regards as repugnant or imprudent. Such a limitation, however, would not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely.
Although an agreement for a limited representation does not exempt a lawyer from the duty to provide competent representation, the limitation is a factor to be considered when determining the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Ghostwriting  Ghostwriting is a form of limited representation. A lawyer may provide legal assistance to litigants appearing before courts and other tribunals pro se and help them prepare written submissions without disclosing, or ensuring the disclosure to others, of such assistance. Undertaking to provide limited legal help does not alter any other aspect of the lawyer's professional responsibilities to the client.
Criminal, Fraudulent and Prohibited Transactions  Paragraph d prohibits a lawyer from knowingly counseling or assisting a client to commit a crime or fraud. Nor does the fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent of itself make a lawyer a party to the course of action.
There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity.
The lawyer is required to avoid assisting the client, for example, by drafting or delivering documents that the lawyer knows are fraudulent or by suggesting how the wrongdoing might be concealed. A lawyer may not continue assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer originally supposed was legally proper but then discovers is criminal or fraudulent. The lawyer must, therefore, withdraw from the representation of the client in the matter.
In some cases, withdrawal alone might be insufficient. It may be necessary for the lawyer to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm any opinion, document, affirmation or the like. Hence, a lawyer must not participate in a transaction to effectuate criminal or fraudulent avoidance of tax liability. Paragraph d does not preclude undertaking a criminal defense incident to a general retainer for legal services to a lawful enterprise.
The last clause of paragraph d recognizes that determining the validity or interpretation of a statute or regulation may require a course of action involving disobedience of the statute or regulation or of the interpretation placed upon it by governmental authorities. Diligence A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. A lawyer is not bound, however, to press for every advantage that might be realized for a client.
For example, a lawyer may have authority to exercise professional discretion in determining the means by which a matter should be pursued. If a lawyer has served a client over a substantial period in a variety of matters, the client sometimes may assume that the lawyer will continue to serve on a continuing basis unless the lawyer gives notice of withdrawal.
For example, if a lawyer has handled a judicial or administrative proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client and the lawyer and the client have not agreed that the lawyer will handle the matter on appeal, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal before relinquishing responsibility for the matter. Whether the lawyer is obligated to prosecute the appeal for the client depends on the scope of the representation the lawyer has agreed to provide to the client.
Rule 28 of the American Bar Association Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement providing for court appointment of a lawyer to inventory files and take other protective action in absence of a plan providing for another lawyer to protect the interests of the clients of a deceased or disabled lawyer.
However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impracticable, for example, where the client is a child or suffers from diminished capacity. When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the lawyer should address communications to the appropriate officials of the organization. Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client.
Withholding Information  In some circumstances, a lawyer may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client.
Rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client.
Communication A lawyer shall: A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. COMMENT  Reasonable communication between the lawyer and the client is necessary for the client to effectively participate in the representation.
For example, a lawyer who receives from opposing counsel an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case must promptly inform the client of its substance unless the client has previously indicated that the proposal will be acceptable or unacceptable or has authorized the lawyer to accept or reject the offer.
Even when a client delegates authority to the lawyer, the client should be kept advised of the status of the matter. In some situations-depending on both the importance of the action under consideration and the feasibility of consulting with the client-this duty will require consultation prior to taking action. In other circumstances, such as during a trial when an immediate decision must be made, the exigency of the situation may require the lawyer to act without prior consultation.
Any decision to outsource part or all of a matter to another lawyer or law firm as a means to accomplish a client's objectives is a client decision based upon informed consent. Additionally, paragraph a 3 requires that the lawyer keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, such as significant developments affecting the timing or the substance of the representation.
A lawyer should promptly respond to or acknowledge client communications. Explaining Matter  The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance that is involved. For example, when there is time to explain a proposal made in a negotiation, the lawyer should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement.
In litigation a lawyer should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that are likely to result in significant expense or to injure or coerce others. On the other hand, a lawyer ordinarily will not be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail.
Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule Client-Lawyer Relationship
In certain circumstances, such as when a lawyer asks a client to consent to a representation affected by a conflict of interest, the client must give informed consent, as defined in Rule 1. Fees A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.
The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following: The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client in writing before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate.
Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated to the client in writing.
A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph d or other law.
A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing signed by the client and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal; litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery; and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the prevailing party.
Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.
A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect: The factors specified in 1 through 8 are not exclusive. Nor will each factor be relevant in each instance. Paragraph a also requires that expenses for which the client will be charged must be reasonable.
A lawyer may seek reimbursement for the cost of services performed in-house, such as copying, or for other expenses incurred in-house, such as telephone charges, either by charging a reasonable amount to which the client has agreed in advance or by charging an amount that reasonably reflects the cost incurred by the lawyer. Basis or Rate of Fee  When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an agreement concerning the basis or rate of the fee and the expenses for which the client will be responsible.
In a new client-lawyer relationship, however, an understanding as to fees and expenses must be promptly established.
Terms of Payment  A lawyer may require advance payment of a fee, but is obliged to return any unearned portion. A lawyer may accept property in payment for services, such as an ownership interest in an enterprise, providing this does not involve acquisition of a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of the litigation contrary to Rule 1.
However, a fee paid in property instead of money may be subject to the requirements of Rule 1. For example, a lawyer should not enter into an agreement whereby services are to be provided only up to a stated amount when it is foreseeable that more extensive services probably will be required, unless the situation is adequately explained to the client.
Otherwise, the client might have to bargain for further assistance in the midst of a proceeding or transaction. A lawyer should not exploit a fee arrangement based primarily on hourly charges by using wasteful procedures. Referral Fee  When a lawyer refers a case to another lawyer or law firm, a division of fees may be made if the client agrees that the case may be referred to the other lawyer or law firm.
Prohibited Contingent Fees  Paragraph d prohibits a lawyer from charging a contingent fee in a domestic relations matter when payment is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support or property settlement to be obtained. This provision does not preclude a contract for a contingent fee for legal representation in connection with the recovery of post-judgment balances due under support, alimony or other financial orders because such contracts do not implicate the same policy concerns.
Disputes over Fees  If a procedure has been established for resolution of fee disputes, such as an arbitration or mediation, the lawyer must comply with the procedure when it is mandatory, and, even when it is voluntary, the lawyer should conscientiously consider submitting to it. The lawyer entitled to such a fee and a lawyer representing another party concerned with the fee should comply with the prescribed procedure.
Confidentiality of Information A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph b. A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct. Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct.
Based upon experience, lawyers know that almost all clients follow the advice given, and the law is upheld. The attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client. The rule of client-lawyer confidentiality applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law.
The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source.
A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
This prohibition also applies to disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person. In some situations, for example, a lawyer may be impliedly authorized to admit a fact that cannot properly be disputed or to make a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion to a matter.
Disclosure Adverse to Client  Although the public interest is usually best served by a strict rule requiring lawyers to preserve the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions.
Paragraph b 1 recognizes the overriding value of life and physical integrity and permits disclosure reasonably necessary to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. Such harm is reasonably certain to occur if it will be suffered imminently or if there is a present and substantial threat that a person will suffer such harm at a later date if the lawyer fails to take action necessary to eliminate the threat.
Such a serious abuse of the client-lawyer relationship by the client forfeits the protection of this Rule. The client can, of course, prevent such disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct. See also Rule 1. Although the client no longer has the option of preventing disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct, there will be situations in which the loss suffered by the affected person can be prevented, rectified or mitigated. In such situations, the lawyer may disclose information relating to the representation to the extent necessary to enable the affected persons to prevent or mitigate reasonably certain losses or to attempt to recoup their losses.
Paragraph b 3 does not apply when a person who has committed a crime or fraud thereafter employs a lawyer for representation concerning that offense. In most situations, disclosing information to secure such advice will be impliedly authorized for the lawyer to carry out the representation.
The same is true with respect to a claim involving the conduct or representation of a former client. Paragraph b 5 does not require the lawyer to await the commencement of an action or proceeding that charges such complicity, so that the defense may be established by responding directly to a third party who has made such an assertion. The right to defend also applies, of course, where a proceeding has been commenced.
In any event, disclosure should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes is necessary to vindicate innocence, the disclosure should be made in a manner which limits access to the information to the tribunal or other persons having a need to know it, and appropriate protective orders or other arrangements should be sought by the lawyer to the fullest extent practicable.
Such a charge can arise in a civil, criminal or professional disciplinary proceeding, and can be based on a wrong allegedly committed by the lawyer against the client, or on a wrong alleged by a third person; for example, a person claiming to have been defrauded by the lawyer and client acting together.
This aspect of the rule expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit it to the detriment of the fiduciary. As stated above, the lawyer must make every effort practicable to avoid unnecessary disclosure of information relating to a representation, to limit disclosure to those having the need to know it, and to obtain protective orders or make other arrangements minimizing the risk of disclosure.
The disclosures authorized in paragraph b 5 are also allowed if claims of illegal, unethical, negligent or improper conduct are made against employees or lawyers practicing in the same firm as the lawyer who knows the confidential information. Whether such a law supersedes Rule 1. When disclosure of information relating to the representation appears to be required by other law, the lawyer must discuss the matter with the client to the extent required by Rule 1.
If, however, the other law supersedes this Rule and requires disclosure, paragraph b 6 permits the lawyer to make such disclosures as are necessary to comply with the law. Under these circumstances, lawyers and law firms are permitted to disclose limited information, but only once substantive discussions regarding the new relationship have occurred.