ETHICAL ISSUE 1
EthicalIssue on Lawyer’s Confidentiality
Ethical Issue on Lawyer’s Confidentiality
Confidentiality has become the cornerstone of legal ethics due to itsabsolutism. In this regard, all practicing lawyers are required tomaintain the secrecy of information learned during interaction withclients. Granted, confidentiality can be broken under extraordinaryor unusual circumstances (Pont, 2015). For example, a lawyer may needto prevent certain death or bodily harm. Some laws and court ordersmay be enacted or issued to force full disclosure in particularcases. Confidentiality has emerged as an ethical issue due to theimplications of such laws. For instance, attorneys are required toremain silent even if the disclosure of certain information couldpotentially exonerate another person from an impending murder chargeor death sentence (Pont, 2015). Furthermore, lawyers must maintainconfidentiality if they learn of kidnapping plans in cases wherechild custody is contested (Pont, 2015). In fact, attorneys whodisclose privileged information are subject to malpractice suits andsanctions such as disbarment.
Notwithstanding the ethical issues involved, attorneys must maintainconfidentiality since it encourages honest communication withclients. The rules on secrecy enhance the value of legal counsel.Hence, clients can enjoy the benefits of confiding in attorneyswithout the drawbacks of disclosing incriminating information.Granted, lawyers can offer services similar to those provided byaccountants, investment bankers, investigators, and financialplanners (Stapleton, 2014). Nevertheless, the demand for legalservices is enhanced by confidentiality laws. In this respect,attorneys can provide solid guarantees that their discussions wouldbe privileged. Lue v. Finkelstein & Partners, LLP, 67A.D.3d 1187, 888 N.Y.S.2d 290 (3d Dept 2009) was a lawsuit where theplaintiff sustained several injuries while working for his employer.In fact, the accident occurred in a warehouse owned by a particularcorporation. The client sued the law firm for failing to preserve hisclaim against the company (Lue v. Finkelstein & Partners, 2009).Although the defendants tried to question the plaintiff about hisprevious discussions with legal advisers, the latter asserted theattorney-client privilege. Notably, the petitioner’s right todemand secrecy was upheld by the New York Appellate Division (Lue v.Finkelstein & Partners, 2009). Consequently, clients can havehonest discussions with their attorneys.
Additionally, confidentiality permits lawyers to conduct extensiveinvestigations while preparing for litigation. Attorneys usedepositions to train their clients on how to respond to questionsposed by opposing counsel. Confidentiality rules also facilitate theavoidance of discovery (Stapleton, 2014). Therefore, clients cananticipate and avoid liability in future lawsuits. S&IInvestments and Richmond v. Payless Flea Market, Inc., 10 So. 3d699 (Fla. App. 2009) was a case that pinpointed the need for invokingthe client-attorney privilege. In this instance, the court ruled thatdeposition by former lawyers represented waiving of confidentiality(S&I Investments and Richmond v. Payless Flea Market, Inc.,2009). Consequently, attorneys can safeguard the interests of theirclients.
Besides, lawyers should maintain secrecy since confidentialityprotects them from public scrutiny and personal implication incriminal schemes. Granted, attorneys are constrained by substantivelaws, agency guidelines, and ethical rules. Nonetheless,confidentiality rules make it impossible to investigate and ascertainwhether they acted on the basis of privileged information (Stapleton,2014). In many instances, lawyers claim to expose liars and frauds,safeguard human rights, prevent police misconduct, and defend theinnocent. Inevitably, the public would be disillusioned if theylearned of the collusion between attorneys and guilty perpetrators(Palys & Lowman, 2014). Hence, confidentiality allows lawyers toproject a façade of care and concern. Friends, business associates,and family members may also learn sensitive information with thepresumption of confidentiality. Invariably, such parties wouldencounter the ethical dilemma of whether to disclose the details andhence prevent harm to an innocent third party. Moreover, non-lawyersare subject to criminal or civil penalties and subpoenas (Pont,2015). On the other hand, the attorney-client privilege shieldslawyers from compelled disclosure. Indeed, attorneys must maintainthe secrecy of privileged information.
Lue v. Finkelstein & Partners, LLP, 67 A.D.3d 1187, 888N.Y.S.2d 290 (3d Dept 2009). Retrieved fromhttps://casetext.com/case/lue-v-finkelstein-partners
Palys, T. S. & Lowman, J. (2014). Protecting researchconfidentiality: What happens when law and ethics collide.Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.
Pont, G. E. (2015). Law of confidentiality. Chatswood, NSW:LexisNexis Butterworths.
S&I Investments and Richmond v. Payless Flea Market, Inc.,10 So. 3d 699 (Fla. App. 2009). Retrieved fromhttp://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-district-court-of-appeal/1308886.html
Stapleton, J. J. (2014). Security without obscurity: A guide toconfidentiality, authentication, and integrity. Boca Raton, FL:CRC Press.