February 4, 2008
Confidentiality And Collecting Fees
An article that appears on the web page of the Minnesota bar's disciplinary system (reprinted from The Minnesota Lawyer) opines that a recent change in the confidentiality rule does not impact on the ability of a lawyer to makes disclosures of otherwise protected information in order to collect a fee. The opinion does note an admonition imposed for a violation of the Minnesota rule:
"...a lawyer received an admonition for disclosing to his minor daughter that, in his words, he was working for 'deadbeat clients' who refused to pay their bills. The lawyer identified one client and the daughter wrote to the client lamenting that while most of her friends were packing their bags and flying on a plane to visit some wonderful vacation resort, she would be forced to stay at home over spring break because of his failure to pay her father’s bill. The lawyer then mailed this letter to the client. The lawyer received an admonition because the disclosure to his daughter and the letter were not a necessary means of establishing or collecting the fee."
A cardinal principle of Rule 1.6 is that disclosures adverse to the client must be strictly limited and no greater than necessary to achieve the lawyer's legitimate purpose. What was this lawyer thinking? (Mike Frisch)
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