War Stories and the Lawyer's Duty of Confidentiality: The Potential Impact of ABA Formal Opinion 480


“It is a lawyer’s duty to keep client information confidential unless the client consents after consultation or unless a disclosure is implicitly authorized by the representation,” noted Craig Alexander during a webinar for the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association on October 11.

He also discussed the following key points:

  • ABA Formal Opinion 480 stresses that this duty is not limited to information received in confidence from the client, but extends to any information gained during the representation, and even the fact of the representation itself.
  • Lawyers must refrain from disclosing client information when moving to withdraw, as well as the ethical prohibition against disclosing or using information gained during the representation after the representation has ended. 
  • Opinion 480’s treatment of the extent of a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality to an insured client when the lawyer obtains information that might imperil the defendant’s coverage under the insurance policy.
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