LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Ronald Walter Kim | May 31, 2016

Confidentiality of Information

Confidentiality means Discretion in keeping secret information.

There are various professions whose livelihood depend on confidentiality between the office and the client (i.e., lawyers, doctors, hospitals, schools, teachers, etc.). So for obvious reasons we would simply like to address the confidentiality between a lawyer and his or her client. Lawyers are often required by law to keep confidential anything pertaining to the representation of a client. This is designed for the purpose of encouraging clients to speak frankly about their cases. This allows lawyers to be able to carry out their duty and provide clients with zealous representation. Otherwise, the opposing side may be able to surprise the lawyer in court with something which he did not know about his client, which may weaken the client's position. We like to keep our readers informed about the legal field so the following is from the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct:

RULE 1.6: CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless:

(1) the client gives informed consent;

(2) the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation; or

(3) the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b) or required by paragraph (c).

(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent the client or another person from committing a crime, including a crime that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another, unless disclosure is prohibited or restricted by RPC 3.3;

(2) to prevent the client from committing a fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services, unless disclosure is prohibited or restricted by RPC 3.3;

(3) to prevent, mitigate, or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services, unless disclosure is prohibited or restricted by RPC 3.3;

(4) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules; or

(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client.

(c) A lawyer shall reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes disclosure is necessary:

(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

(2) to comply with an order of a tribunal requiring disclosure, but only if ordered to do so by the tribunal after the lawyer has asserted on behalf of the client all non frivolous claims that the information sought by the tribunal is protected against disclosure by the attorney client privilege or other applicable law; or

(3) to comply with RPC 3.3, 4.1, or other law.

Additional resources provided by the author

Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct-TRPC

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