NOTE: Publication for public comment is not, and shall not, be construed as a
recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published
Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 13-0005 (Publicly Available Confidential Information) – Additional Public Comment Circulation
The State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) is charged with the task of issuing advisory opinions on the ethical propriety of hypothetical attorney conduct. In accordance with Tab 19, Article 2, Section 6(g) (as modified by Tab 12, Title 1, Division 2, Rule 1.10) of the State Bar Board Book, the Committee shall publish proposed formal opinions for public comment.
Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 13 0005 considers: What duties does a lawyer owe to current and former clients to refrain from disclosing potentially embarrassing or detrimental information about the client, including publicly available information the lawyer learned during the course of his representation?
The opinion interprets rule 3-100; Business and Professions Code section 6068(e)(1); and Evidence Code sections 952 and 954.
The opinion digest states: A lawyer may not disclose his client’s secrets, which include not only confidential information communicated between the client and the lawyer, but also publicly available information that the lawyer obtained during the professional relationship which the client has requested to be kept secret or the disclosure of which might be embarrassing or detrimental to the client. Even after termination of the attorney-client relationship, the lawyer may not disclose potentially embarrassing or detrimental information about the former client if that information was acquired by virtue of the lawyer’s prior representation.
At its April 24, 2015 meeting and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, the State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct tentatively approved Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 13-0005 for a 90 day public comment distribution. Subsequently, at its Feb. 26, 2016 meeting, COPRAC revised the opinion in response to public comments received and, in further accordance with its Rules of Procedure, tentatively approved Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 13-0005 for an additional 60-day public comment distribution.
Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 13-0005
State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct
5 p.m., May 16, 2016