ABA says disclosing client information to other firms is ethical

Such disclosures can help avoid conflicts of interest when firms merge or lawyers change jobs

Lawyers always want to act ethically, but ethics is an ever-evolving area, as evidenced by the amended model rule that the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates approved this week. The rule states that disclosing client information when lawyers are trying to move from one firm to another is ethical, an issue that the ABA had never previously addressed.

When attorneys are in talks for a new job, or when their firm is thinking of merging with another, disclosing the identities of clients and the amount of business they generate is ethical, the ABA says, because the information can help point out any conflicts of interest that might exist. However, the model rule states that lawyers still should not reveal clients' financial information.

Of course, the rule is just advisory, but many state and city bar associations don't have rules covering this topic, and the guidance could help many lawyers in such jurisdictions.

"Our hope is that with clear rules there will be less disclosure of client information that shouldn't be disclosed," said Jamie Gorelick, the co-chair of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

 

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