July/August 2020

Ethics

Responding to Subpoenas and Client-Information Requests

Lucian T. Pera

For years, I’ve given simple advice to lawyers and law firms on responding to a subpoena for documents or information from a client file: Don’t comply unless the client consents in writing or a court specifically orders you to respond.

The same advice applies to any other request for client information from someone other than the client.

Oh, and by the way, a subpoena may indeed technically be an “order,” but I’ve always insisted on an express order entered by a court after some kind of objection and hearing, however minimal.

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