Informal Opinion Number: 980137

Rules: 4-1.4; 4-1.6
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Summary: email

Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2007, Rule 4-1.6 was amended and new comments adopted.  This informal opinion should be read with Comment [16] to the amended Rule.

QUESTION: Attorney is requesting clarification of 970230 concerning communicating with a client using e-mail. Attorney feels that the previous opinion is an overreaction. Would OCDC reconsider its position?

ANSWER: The recency of the development of e-mail communication is a valid basis for a distinction between forms of communication. It is certainly acceptable to advise clients of the relative risks of interception of communications by regular telephones, etc. However, the attorney owes a duty to the client to advise of the risks of attorney/client communications through a technology about which many clients only have a rudimentary knowledge. This advice does not have to be technical in nature. The advice must be adequate to inform the client of the nature of the risk before the client makes the decision that it is acceptable to use that method of communication.

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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