Why You Should Cool Down Before Responding to That Internet Post

Keep-calm-and-carry-onAn Illinois lawyer was disciplined last month for improperly disclosing confidential information in responding to an unfavorable Avvo.com post by her client. See In re Tsamis, No. 6288664, Illinois Disciplinary Commission (Aug. 26, 2013). The commission found: “By stating in her April 11, 2013 AVVO posting that Rinehart beat up a female coworker, Respondent revealed information that she had obtained from Rinehart about the termination of his employment.”

This could happen in Louisiana. The Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct allow a lawyer to disclose confidential information in self-defense. However, such a disclosure must not only be “reasonably . . . necessary,” but also attendant to a formal judicial proceeding:

(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary: . . .

(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client . . . .

See La. Rules of Prof’l Conduct Rule 1.6(b)(5). So, calm down. Wait a few days. And if you really must respond, do not disclose any client confidential information.

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