February 24, 2009
Confidentiality And Prospective Clients
The District of Columbia Bar Legal Ethics Committee opines on confidentiality obligations to a prospective client where the communication comes from a lawyer exploring possible referral of the matter rather than direct communication with the prospective client:
When a prospective client consents to having a lawyer speak to a second lawyer on his behalf regarding the possibility of establishing an attorney-client relationship, the second lawyer has an obligation under Rules 1.6 and 1.18 to treat the communication as confidential, even if the second lawyer never speaks directly with the prospective client.
Given the importance of maintaining confidentiality of any information received by the first lawyer, it is advisable that the first lawyer disclose at the outset of the conversation with the second lawyer that the purpose of the discussion is to consider taking on a new case for someone, and to limit initial disclosures to the essential facts until it can be determined whether the second lawyer has a conflict of interest.
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