Sunday, December 13, 2015

May lawyers reveal conflidential information to prevent a client's suicide?

The Virginia State Bar recently addressed the question of whether an attorney can disclose confidential information in order to help prevent a client from committing suicide.

Although Virginia ethics rules don’t specifically address a client’s threat of suicide, a 1984 Virginia ethics opinion said it is not improper for a lawyer to disclose to appropriate mental health authorities a client’s intent to commit suicide.  Therefore, according to an update to the Virginia State Bar’s list on frequently asked legal-ethics questions, a lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action when the lawyer reasonably believes a client’s suicide threat is credible, adding that the rules “should be interpreted to allow the lawyer to contact the client’s family, close friends, mental health care providers, or emergency medical services personnel so that an intervention can be made to save the client from harm.”   Check out question and answer #26 here.

The Legal Profession blog has more information and some links here.  

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post! I was not aware that a lawyer had that option to execute when their client may inflict injury to themselves.