Informal Opinion Number: 990118

Rules: 4-1.6
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Confidentiality of Information

QUESTION: Several years ago Attorney filed a conservatorship matter for some clients, but after a conservator ad litem was appointed, Attorney was not involved any further. Attorney has recently been contacted by the IRS concerning the conservatorship. The IRS has requested Attorney´s file, but Attorney told the IRS that Attorney can not discuss the matter or provide the file without the client´s permission. Are Attorney´s actions appropriate?
ANSWER: Attorney must continue to treat the information as confidential. Therefore, Attorney may not disclose the information without the consent of Attorney´s clients, unless ordered to do so by a court. A grand jury subpoena does not constitute such an order. If the issue is presented to a court, Attorney should make certain that the Rule 4-1.6 confidentiality issue is fully presented, and seek to have the court´s ruling as specific and limited as possible.

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.

To request an Informal Opinion, please visit: lawyers/requesting-an-informal-advisory-opinion/.

© Copyright 2023