Is Attorney-Client Confidentiality Necessary?

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Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics


confidentiality rules, attorney client privilege, professional responsibility, ethics


Broad confidentiality rules with narrow, limited exceptions serve well the interests of attorneys while subjecting other parties to significant harm. The ABA's failure to consider the complexity and moral ambiguity of the decision to withhold or disclose confidential information is unfortunate. This Article explores the evolution of this broad rule of confidentiality. I argue that the organized bar has proven to be incapable of establishing reasonable guidelines on confidential information. Nor is it likely that it will do much better in the future. Rather than attempting to establish a better set of confidentiality rules, the bar should get out of the business of regulating confidentiality. The bar should defer to the courts in establishing disclosure standards for client information on a case by case basis under the evidentiary attorney-client privilege.


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