Extrajudicial Statements: Lawyers' Ethical Obligations in Communicating with the Press

D. Duty Not to Divulge Client Confidences

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D. Duty Not to Divulge Client Confidences.

Attorneys must also be careful not to divulge client confidences without the consent of the client in their communication with the press. Model Rule 1.6(a) states that an attorney "shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client consents after full consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized to carry out the representation." See also Model Code of Professional Responsibility DR 4-101.

Certainly, an attorney should have the consent of the client prior to any contact with the press and there should be an understanding of what will be divulged to the press. Simply speaking to the press without a client's prior knowledge might raise issues under Model Rule 1.6(a). However, even with the knowledge and participation of the client, attorneys must be cognizant of the bounds of what they may and may not say to the press. It is conceivable that a client may not wish certain matters to be disclosed to the press that the attorney believes may be helpful to the case if released to the press. Accordingly, to avoid divulging client confidences in violation of an attorney's professional responsibility, there should be a clear understanding between the attorney and client prior to communicating with the press.

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