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American Bar Association Journal

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The provisions of the proposed Model Rules of Professional Conduct relating to confidentiality will seriously impair, if not destroy, the traditional relationship between lawyer and client. Let me explain why that is so by reviewing the status of confidentiality in the current American Bar Association ethical standards and in Supreme Court decisions, and by showing how the model rules would radically change our traditional standards and values.

Whether serving as counselor or as advocate, the lawyer must establish a relationship of trust and confidence with the client. Only through that relationship can the lawyer learn all the relevant facts, determine which are important and which are helpful or harmful, and give the client professional judgment and representation. If the client were to withhold information that might be relevant, the lawyer could not effectively serve the client's needs. Accordingly, the lawyer must be able to assure the client that confidences will be inviolate in all but the most unusual and extreme circumstances.