Lawyers may not disclose confidential information while responding to former clients’ criticism

On October 30, 2014, the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar issued Opinion 1032 providing guidelines on how lawyers could respond to former clients’ critical commentary on the web.

A former client had “unfairly characterized the firm’s representation of the former client on a website that provides reviews of lawyers”  but he had “said nothing about the merits of the underlying matter … [or about] particular communications with the law firm or any other confidential information. He had “not filed or threatened a civil or disciplinary complaint or made any other application for civil or criminal relief.” The firm disagrees and “wishes to respond to the former client’s criticism by telling its side of the story if it may do so consistently with its continuing duties to preserve a former client’s confidential information.”  This was the question posed to the Committee.

Digest: “A lawyer may not disclose confidential client information solely to respond to a former client’s criticism of the lawyer posted on a lawyer-rating website.” 

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

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