2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 5: Authority to Discuss Former Client’s Appellate Case with Successor Lawyer

North Carolina State Bar Building Photo Courtesy of the North Carolina State Bar

View the Formal Ethics Opinion in Full Here.

Generally, lawyers representing a client during the pre-conviction stages of a case have a vastly different relationship with the client—more personal contact and more irrelevant confidential information exposed—than lawyers representing a client during post-conviction stages of a case.  As such, the North Carolina Bar opines in Proposed 2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 5 that during appellate proceedings, a discharged lawyer is allowed to discuss a former client’s case and hand over that client’s file to the successor counsel with consent of the client.  The client’s consent can either be explicit or implied per Rule 1.6(a).  Disclosure can be impliedly authorized as is appropriate to carry out representation notwithstanding specific client instructions to the contrary.  The opinion notes that the ruling only applies to a discharged appellate lawyer and the subsequent appellate lawyer.

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About Ana Hopper, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus (33 Articles)
Ana Hopper is a 2016 Campbell Law graduate and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Campbell Law Observer for the 2015-2016 academic year. She is originally from Winston-Salem and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology. The summer following her first year of law school, Ana worked as a research assistant for Professor Amy Flanary-Smith. Ana also interned at the Criminal Appellate Section of the Department of Justice her second year, and at the New Hanover District Attorney's Office as an intern the summer before her third year. She served as a Legal Research and Writing Scholar, Vice President of BLSA, and Community Chair of Lambda during her time at Campbell.
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