Last week, the Legal Profession blog reported on an interesting case that shows that there are severe consequences to the disclosing confidential information, even if it is done with good intentions. The case also demonstrates once again, how becoming personally attached to a client can cloud an attorney's good professional judgment.
In this case, an attorney represented a client in a divorce. During the course of the representation, the attorney learned that the client was a drug user. Nevertheless, he began an intimate relationship with the client and began to act as a "de facto father" to the client's daughter.
Some years later, while still counsel of record for the client, the attorney filed a petition for custody of the daughter under the same court number as the divorce action. As part of this process, the attorney disclosed the confidential information about the client's drug use.
The attorney's intentions were good. He disclosed the information out of concern for the daughter's welfare. However, his conduct was a violation of his duty to the client.
Based on these facts, an Arizona hearing officer has recommended a six-month suspension and one year of probation.