November 14, 2006
New District of Columbia Ethics Rules
by Mike Frisch
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has adopted extensive revisions to its Rules of Professional Conduct effective February 1, 2007. The court appoved the proposed amendments of a bar committee that had devoted study to the last round of ABA Model Rules changes. One new rule brings D.C. more closely in line with the ABA on the confidentiality exception allowing disclosure to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to financial interests of another as a result of a client's crime or fraud. The full revisions can be downloaded from the D.C. Bar's web site (www.dcbar.org).
One interesting departure from the ABA is new Rule 4.4(b): A lawyer who receives a writing relating to a representation of a client and knows, before examining the writing, that it has been inadvertently sent, shall not examine the writing, but shall notify the sending party and abide by the instructions of the sending party regarding the return or destruction of the writing.
Interesting rule, particularly in light of case law that holds that the attorney-client privilege is waived by such inadvertent disclosure. I'd be curious to hear any reader reaction to the wisdom and/or effective impact of this rule.
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