Why "Honey I did great in trial today" may violate ethics rules - and what to do about it.

Lawyers love rules.  Lawyers also tend to be OCD.  Rules + OCD = an intricate, layered, never ending monstrous pile of rules that becomes increasingly difficult to navigate.  The legal profession calls this - job security.

We are equal opportunity OCD rule creators.  We even create rules to govern ourselves.  Some of them are breathtakenly overbroad and impossible to humanly adhere to.

Enter Rule for Professional Conduct 1.6:  "A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph b."

This language is based on the newest model rule.   This goes way beyond what I learned in law school.  We were taught never to divulge confidences or secrets.  Well, that is only the half of it.

The Washington State Bar Association recently published an article written by Jamila Johnson.  She explained if a technical reading of the rule is correct, lawyers cannot mention anything about a case to anyone.

I've attended many continuing legal education programs put on by bar associations.  All of them feature lawyers talking about cases.  So I guess they better stop having CLEs.  Or change this rule.

Until then, here is a form letter I am sending to each and every one of my clients now and in the future.


Table - from the  WSBA news article

Table - from the WSBA news article