Tip of the Month

Tip for June 2009

Preserve Client Confidences and Secrets When Withdrawing from Representation

Model Rule 1.6 requires that lawyers preserve client confidences and secrets.  When a lawyer withdraws from a case that is not pending before a tribunal, there is no need to disclose any confidential information.  When the matter is pending before a tribunal, and permission of the tribunal is required before the lawyer may withdraw, the lawyer should avoid unnecessary disclosure of confidential or secret information.

While a motion for leave to withdraw should set forth grounds for the withdrawal, those grounds usually can be expressed in generic terms that reveal little in the way of client confidences or secrets.  If the tribunal requires further detail, counsel should suggest an in camera hearing so that the disclosure is not made to opposing counsel or to the public at large.  The lawyer should reveal as little as possible during the hearing to accomplish the goal of withdrawal and make a record that the disclosure is made at the request of the tribunal. 

The lawyer should not disclose confidences or secrets that are not necessary to accomplish the goal of withdrawal.