Informal Opinion Number: 2017-04

Adoption Date: 2017

Rules: 4-1.4; 4-1.6; 4-3.4
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Confidentiality of Information
Fairness to Opposing party and Counsel
Subject: Confidentiality; Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel
Summary: court order to disclose confidential information

Question: May Attorney comply with a court Order directing Attorney to provide to law enforcement information related to the representation of Client, where Client declines to give informed consent for Attorney to provide the confidential information?
Answer: Rule 4-1.6(b)(4) allows Attorney to reveal confidential information to the extent reasonably necessary to comply with other law or a court order. Rule 4-3.4(c) forbids a lawyer from knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no obligation exists. Before complying with the Order, and absent informed consent from Client to do otherwise, attorney should assert on Client’s behalf all nonfrivolous claims that the Order is not authorized by other law or that the information is protected by the attorney-client privilege or other applicable law. See Rule 4-1.6, Comment [11]. If Attorney’s challenge is denied, Attorney must consult with Client about the possibility of appeal, to the extent required by Rule 4-1.4. See Rule 4-1.6, Comment [11]. If review is not sought, or if Client is no longer Attorney’s current client at the time of the adverse ruling, Attorney is free to comply with the Order. Rule 4-1.6(b)(4). If Attorney lacks a good faith basis for an original or further challenge to the Order, Attorney is free to comply with the Order and may be required to do so pursuant to Rule 4-3.4(c).

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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