What constitutes a breach of confidentiality and ethics?

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What constitutes a breach of confidentiality and ethics?

My landlord and my attorney are related. I contacted my attorney’s office to request a referral to another lawyer as I knew that would not he be able to advise me ethically due to the nature of their relationship. I was asked what it was in reference to and I explained that I had an issue with my apartment. No other details were discussed. I was given the name of another lawyer and then my landlord was contacted by the original lawyer’s office and told I was filing suit. I was contacted by the superintendent of the building and was told that I was negligent and stupid for contacting a lawyer.

Asked on February 1, 2011 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were already a client of that attorney for other matters, then he would likely have had a continuing duty of confidentially vis-a-vis you. That means that while he should in fact have not represented you (even if you wanted him to do so), he should not have divulged your converation to anyone else. So this may well  be a case of a breach of ethics for which you could report the attorney to the office of the courts which regulates and licenses attorneys. If you haven't suffered any economic losses or damages  (name calling doesn't count), then there'd be no basis for a lawsuit or other compensation. You may also wish to consider whether you need to more generally get another attorney, since this one's judgment and/or ethics seem somewhat suspect.


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