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Importance of Client Confidentiality

Due to Federal and state data protection laws, wherever you operate, you might be breaking law when releasing any information. Without explicit written consent of the client, you are not permitted to discuss any details of their case, no matter how small.  Please take moment to read over the importance of client confidentiality.

Lawyers are Taking Risks on Social Media

As a business and as a legal professional, it’s important to keep oneself in check over which information is released into the public sphere. Everyone has become too open on social media, and that includes information about customers and clients. It has become second nature; however, there is a risk of a professional breach, investigation, and fine if releasing information that could help identify either a case or an individual relating to the case.  Whatever confidentiality laws apply in your state and to your legal sector also apply on social media.

Confidentiality Doesn’t End with the Case

It’s natural to assume that once a case is done, or it’s in the public sphere, there is no obligation to keep a client’s information secret. This is not true. Attorneys are required to safeguard “information related to a representation, whatever its source and without regard to the fact that others may be aware of or have access to such knowledge” at all times, according to ABA rules concerning professional conduct.  This is where many lawyers and law firms most commonly breach confidentiality rules.

Are There Exceptions?

The California Rules of Professional Conduct do provide exceptions. Here, disclosure is permitted when the attorney has reason to believe it would prevent a felony that could result in harm or death to any individual.

The ABA Model Rules go further than this. Confidential information may be released if:

  • It would result in preventing a death or physical bodily harm
  • It prevents a client committing a crime
  • In defense of a claim that a client brings against another person
  • Where a court orders release of information about a client or case

However, this will rarely be the case discussing information in a social media context and is likely to involve legal and law enforcement professionals.

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