March 22, 2019 Substantive Law

Attorneys Must Self-Report Errors to Current Clients

By C. Thea Pitzen

Reprinted with permission from Litigation News, Winter 2019 (44:2) at 6. ©2019 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

A lawyer who commits a material error in the representation of a current client is ethically obligated to disclose that error to the client.

According to the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility’s Formal Opinion 481, Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct does not permit a lawyer to conceal a mistake from a client and simply hope for the best. Rather, the ethical lawyer must “self-report” a material mistake to a current client and deal with the consequences that may result.

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