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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ind. Law - Duties of attorney to City Council to maintain confidentiality

The South Bend Tribune has a very interesting column today by Nancy J. Sulok about the ethical duties of the South Bend Common Council's attorney. Some quotes:

Charlotte Pfeifer, president of the South Bend Common Council, thinks the council's attorney should share information with her about everything the attorney is working on.

Doing so, according to council attorney Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand, would force her to violate two Rules of Professional Conduct. * * *

The problem was that Pfeifer and Cekanski-Farrand seemed to have different opinions about a verbal agreement they had reached after a series of one-on-one meetings.

One issue concerned the so-called 35-hour rule, which the council has observed for 10 years. It says that Cekanski-Farrand doesn't have to report her work for an individual council member to the full council until it reaches 35 hours.

The main bone of contention involved confidentiality. Cekanski-Farrand said when she does work for an individual council member, she treats it as confidential and doesn't share information without permission.

That rankled Pfeifer, who said she thought Cekanski-Farrand had agreed to report to her about everything she was working on.

If they didn't have that agreement, Pfeifer said, she didn't think she could support Cekanski-Farrand's continued service.

Cekanski-Farrand said she cannot go against court rules that govern privileged information and confidentiality.
One rule stipulates that "a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly (sic) authorized in order to carry out the representation,'' or the disclosure is permitted by other parts of the rule.

The second rule she cited deals with the client-lawyer relationship when an organization is the client. It says, "A lawyer representing an organization may also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents,'' subject to provisions of other rules.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 24, 2005 04:23 PM
Posted to Indiana Law