Opinion 87-9
(April 1987)

As Chair of the Professional Guidance Committee, your letter to Paul Kazaras of April 9, 1987, has been forwarded to my attention. In view of the fact that the next meeting of the Professional Guidance Committee will not be until May 18, 1986, I have chosen to respond to your letter.

In your letter you have indicated that you are personally involved in a divorce and support action in New Jersey. You have been ordered by the court to make certain records available for inspection by an accountant retained by your wife for purpose of that divorce and support action.

Your concern about the disclosure of client confidential information is well placed. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily controlling.

Under Canon 4, and the applicable ethical considerations and disciplinary rules, every effort should be made to preserve the confidences and secrets of your client. However, under DR4-101(c)(2), a lawyer may reveal the confidence or secrets of a client when required by court order. Accordingly, because you have been ordered by the court to make certain disclosures, you may do so without violating DR4-101.

To the extent you disclose information, an effort should be made to protect as much of the confidential information as possible. For example, the accountant may be able to make an analysis of your business records, without your actually having to disclose the identity of the individual client. In this vein, you may wish to suggest that the client name be redacted but the amount pertaining to the client be made available.

I hope the foregoing is of some value to you. If you believe it needs further attention, please let me know.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.