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