PSA to Romantically Involved Lawyers: Use Redaction!
Lawyers do it every day. But for one pair of form-crossed Ohio lawyers, who did it and didn't redact, the state's bar decided to set an example.
The two lawyers met at a conference and hit it off. They both were part of similar legal practices representing public schools and began romantically seeing each other. Over a period of two years, the two shared client confidences and unredacted legal forms and client emails freely, even after they got busted. In the disciplinary opinion, it was noted that one even admitted to the fact that the other routinely completed work she was supposed to do.
For Shame, or Stayed Suspension
Interestingly, the pair were both disciplined for disclosing client confidences without consent, as well as for unprofessional conduct. Notably though, the court's opinion explains that no harm befell any clients.
Sadly for the involved pair, when one firm discovered their own attorney was sharing client information and forms with a lawyer at another firm in the same area, it not only terminated the attorney, it reported the conduct to the Ohio state bar, and notified the other firm. That led the other attorney to be terminated as well.
The silver lining for the two lawyers is that their six-month suspensions were stayed.
Redact When Helping
The opinion in the disciplinary action makes it rather clear, that but for some simple redaction, this case could have easily never existed. For litigators, it might not matter as much when sharing pleadings, as these are likely public record, and thus unlikely in need of redaction. But, when sharing legal documents to help a fellow practitioner, if those docs contain privileged or confidential information, you better redact like your license depends on it.
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