Opinion 88-23
(June 1988)

Your recent inquiry regarding the reporting of attorney misconduct was presented to the Professional Guidance Committee at its meeting on June 20, 1988. This letter will constitute the formal opinion of the Committee.

You indicate that you have "received correspondence directly from one of the other parties to a matter currently being litigated wherein that party makes certain allegations concerning his attorney which, if proven, could be deemed to be highly unethical.

Rule 8.3(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that:

(a) A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority....

(C) This rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6

Rule 1.6 deals with the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of a client.

The Committee is of the opinion that since the information you received was from one of the other parties in the litigation, and not from your client, that there is no possibility the letter could be considered a confidential communication protected by Rule 1.6. As such, Rule 8.3 mandates that you forward the correspondence in question to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which is the authority that handles the investigation of unethical conduct by attorneys practicing in the Commonwealth.
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.