August 30, 2010
It's the first day of school at the Georgetown University Law Center and today's topic is the duty of confidentiality. We ethics profs always warn our students about the dangers of gossiping about their client's matters. We call it the "cocktail party chatter" doctrine (at least we do Inside the Beltway).
Well, an Indiana lawyer was privately reprimanded last week for exactly that--the attorney had referred a divorce client to another lawyer. The client (AB) filed for divorce but dropped the case and reconciled with her spouse. Then:
In March or April 2008, Respondent was socializing with two friends, one of whom was also a friend of AB's. Unaware of AB's reconciliation with her husband, Respondent told her two friends about AB's filing for divorce and about her husband's accusation. Respondent encouraged AB's friend to contact AB because the friend expressed concern for her. When AB's friend called AB and told her what Respondent had told him, AB became upset about the revelation of the information and filed a grievance against Respondent.The court found that the duty of confidentiality applied here as AB was a prospective client governed by Rule 1.18. The private reprimand does not identify the attorney. (Mike Frisch)
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