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What duties to attorneys have to third parties?

by | Oct 12, 2018 | Legal Malpractice |

Much is often made about the duties inherent with the attorney-client relationship. It is true that a lawyer is expected to do all that is within their power to provide the best representation for their client. However, that effort is not expected to come at the expense of others. You could easily find yourself having to deal with attorneys over legal matters in Florida to which you have no direct relation. You might think that said attorneys owe no obligations to you, and thus will do whatever they can to you in order to further the interests of their clients. Fortunately, that is not true. 

According to Rule 4.4 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys do indeed owe a duty (however limited) to third parties. This includes not engaging in any activity whose sole purpose is meant to embarrass, delay or burden you. Imagine you were called to give testimony that could potentially be prejudicial to an attorney’s client. In an attempt to intimidate or undermine you, said attorney releases personal details their client knows about you to the media. Such an action would certainly qualify as a violation of ethical conduct. 

What is more, an attorney cannot violate your legal rights in an attempt to gain evidence that may help his or her client. This includes obtaining legally protected information about you (such as your medical records) without your consent. 

Another example of an attorney’s duty to you as a third party is the disclosure of information. If you inadvertently send an attorney documentation (be it physical or electronic), they are required to notify you before disclosing it to others. This requirement applies even to information that may be related to their client’s representation.