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Journal of the Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics

Publication Date

1-1-1999

Introduction

I would like to thank Roy Simon for giving me the opportunity to respond to Roger Cramton's paper on the confidentiality issues raised by Spaulding v. Zimmerman, particularly in light of the fact that Roger Cramton and I met two years ago when I was chairwoman of the California State Bar Ethics Committee and asked him to speak at a symposium panel on confidentiality. You must understand that California has an absolute rule of confidentiality-there are no exceptions to the rule. Because Roger was leading the charge to create exceptions, he was alternatively hailed both as a visionary and a carpetbagger from New York. I'm pleased to say that he was ultimately judged to be one of the most interesting speakers at the conference.

Which is why I read with great interest his paper on confidentiality and Spaulding v. Zimmerman. Hailing from a state where absolute confidentiality is the rule, I tend to be wary of exceptions. Why? Because I believe that once you let the camel's nose under the tent, pretty soon he's sleeping in the tent. When I say no exceptions, I am not referring to those allowed in civil actions. Certainly lawyers can reveal confidences when they are sued for malpractice or where a former client files a disciplinary complaint. I am referring to the Rules of Professional Conduct, the only standards for discipline.

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