The bar Association of San Francisco Opinion 2014-1

The bar Association of San Francisco Ethics Committee

Topic: Response to Clients’ Online Review

Digest from the opinion

“An attorney is not ethically barred from responding generally to an online review by a former client where the former client’s matter has concluded.  However, the duty of confidentiality prevents the attorney from disclosing confidential information about the prior representation absent the former client’s informed consent or waiver of confidentiality.  This Opinion assumes the former client’s posting does not disclose any confidential information and does not constitute a waiver of confidentiality or the attorney-client privilege. While the online review could have an impact on the attorney’s reputation, absent a consent or waiver, disclosure of otherwise confidential information is not ethically permitted in California unless there is a formal complaint  by the client, or an inquiry from a disciplinary authority based on a complaint by the client.  Even in situations where disclosure is permitted, disclosure should occur only in the context of the formal proceeding or inquiry, and should be narrowly tailored to the issues raised by the former client.  If the matter previously handled for the former client has not concluded, depending on the circumstances, it may be inappropriate for the attorney to provide any substantive response in the online forum, even one that does not disclose confidential information”


  • California RPC 3-100
  • Model Rule 1.6


Referenced Authorities:

  • Business & Professions Code §6068(e)
  • Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Evidence Code §§955, 958


The full text is available at: http://www.sfbar…