Bar Counsel Notes: Confidentiality of Information

Under the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, how should an attorney respond under the following scenario? Client is involved in a highly contested Parental Rights and Responsibilities case. He sent the attorney a letter describing his recent move away from the area. Client took his child with him, and in his letter specifically directed his attorney to not disclose their whereabouts. What should lawyer do?

Lawyer should do nothing and upon any request, must refuse to make any disclosure of her client's address or location. Her knowledge of that information is confidential under M. R. Prof. Conduct 1.6. She may only disclose her client's location if an exception under that Rule applies, e.g. she is ordered by a court to make that disclosure pursuant to M.R. Prof. Conduct 1.6(b)(6);(c).

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.