Can lawyers let the person that I plan on suing know that I contacted an attorney to sue even if I do not choose to hire him?

Asked 11 months ago - Blaine, WA

I would like justice on personal injury and a few other things that I don't really want to mention here. When I talk to law firms, it appears that they need to know my employer first but I am afraid that the firm may disclose this information to my employer. Are there laws protecting my information that I share with an attorney while I am attorney shopping?

Attorney answers (8)

  1. Joseph Leonard Ciaccio

    Contributor Level 12

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Anything you and this attorney discuss should be considered privileged information - when you meet or speak with an attorney regarding theses issues discuss whether they consider what you are speaking about to be privileged before you disclose any sensitive information.

    Best of luck.

    Joseph L. Ciaccio is a New York attorney with the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, P.C. (medicalattorneyny.... more
  2. J. Richard Kulerski

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You have a right to confidentiality.

  3. Jason Alexander Richman

    Contributor Level 13

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . NO!!!!!! If they did so it would be a very serious ethical violation. That said, it is certainly possible that an unethical attorney might do so, so you should be careful to investigate the background and reputation of any attorney that you are considering consulting with.

  4. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Confidential

  5. Crystal Grace Rutherford

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The Rules of Professional Conduct in Washington are very specific. Whatever you tell an attorney in confidence, stays in confidence. However, the lawyers may be asking you who your employer is if it was on the job injury which means it is an L&I case. Or if there is some liability on the part of your employer due to harms caused by another employee, if there is a possible conflict of interest that would prohibit that lawyer from representing you. Feel free to ask the lawyers, why they are interested in your employer. And, yes, by all means, if for no other reason but to give you peace of mind, tell the lawyers you are interviewing to keep everything in confidence and to contact no one.

    I hope your injuries have resolved.

  6. Christopher Michael Davis

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Anything that you say to your attorney, or in this case your potential attorney, is protected by an attorney client privilege. Many attorney's ask for the name of the employer so they can do a conflict of interest check to make sure that they are able to represent you.

    Any accident and legal information provided by Davis Law Group to non-clients is for general information purposes... more
  7. Amanda Elizabeth Lee

    Contributor Level 10

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You already have a bunch of correct answers here. I write only to explain how the different ethical rules work to protect your interests while you look for a lawyer. First, as everyone has said, what you say to a lawyer you are considering hiring is confidential and the lawyer cannot disclose it without your permission. (That rule of confidentiality is in the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 1.18.)

    Your concern that the lawyer might share the information with the company you intend to sue is addressed not only by the confidentiality rules, but by the rules related to "conflicts of interest." A conflict of interest is something that would prevent the lawyer or the law firm from being totally loyal to you and your interests. No lawyer or law firm can represent you if, at the same time, they are working for the company you want to sue. For this reason, any lawyer you consult with must determine whether or not they have a conflict of interest that would prevent them from representing you. If a law firm you contact already represents the company you want to sue (in some other case, for instance) the firm cannot represent you. The law firm might not be able to represent you if it represented the company a long time ago, on some other kind of case. And even if the lawyer you contact has never heard of your employer, if some other lawyer in the same firm represents the company, then the lawyer cannot represent you. So one of the very first questions a lawyer you contact is likely to ask is "who is the company or person you are considering suing?" The purpose of the question is to allow the lawyer to run a "conflicts check," meaning, usually, a computer check the firm's records to be sure that no one in the firm represents, or previously represented, that person or company.

    The basic rules about conflicts of interest are straightforward, but there are some complex aspects as well. (The specific rules are RPC 1.7, 1.8, 1.9 and 1.10.) It's also important to know that, in many situations, a conflict of interest can be waived by the client or clients affected by it. But the worst thing that can happen is for a lawyer or law firm to be told all the information about your case and only then look to see if there is a conflict of interest. Most lawyers and law firms are careful to avoid this, and that's why they are asking you the question.

    Every person and every case is unique and the information I provide on this forum is not a substitute for... more
  8. Diego P. Gavilanes

    Pro

    Contributor Level 7

    Answered . Here's the applicable rule of professional conduct. You can see for yourself the very high standard that attorneys must adhere to in regard to keeping their clients' confidences and secrets.

    RPC 1.6 states that:
    (a) A lawyer shall not reveal confidences or secrets relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation and except as stated in sections (b) and (c).
    (b) A lawyer may reveal such confidences or secrets to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: (1) to prevent the client from committing a crime..

    The standard is very rigorous. One of the important reasons for guaranteeing the confidentiality of attorney-client communications is the need for these relationships to be on the basis of trust. What kind of a relationship would you have with a lawyer where there is no trust?

    Best of luck

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