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Abstract 96/97-08

Summary of Stated Facts

An attorney (the "Counseling Attorney") has been engaged by a lawyer assistance program for the purpose of providing legal counseling to other attorneys regarding the conduct of the latter. An attorney receiving counseling (the "Lawyer/Client") may disclose to the Counseling Attorney conduct which violates the Colorado Rules.

Issues and Conclusions

Is the Counseling Attorney obligated to advise the Grievance Committee or Disciplinary Counsel of information learned through that counseling that the Lawyer/Client may have violated one of the Colorado Rules?

If an attorney-client relationship exists between the Counseling Attorney and a Lawyer/Client, or if the Counseling Attorney is providing counseling through an approved lawyer assistance program, Colorado Rules 1.6(a) and 8.3(c) relieve the Counseling Attorney of the obligation to report violations of the Colorado Rules by the Lawyer/Client and disclosed by that Lawyer/Client, subject to the exception of Colorado Rule 1.6(b) (information related to the intent to commit a crime and to prevent the crime). People v. Morely, 725 P.2d 510 (Colo. 1986); Committee on Professional Ethics of the Illinois State Bar Association Opinion 90-8, (Jan. 29, 1991) (a lawyer who gains knowledge of another lawyer's misconduct which would, in other circumstances, trigger the reporting requirement is not required to report when the information was gained through confidential communications in the course of representing the lawyer/client); New Jersey Bar Association Opinion 638 (1990) (a lawyer who represents another lawyer and who learns, during the course of representation, that the lawyer/client engaged in conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer/client's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to practice has no duty to reveal the information to disciplinary authorities when the attorney-client privilege applies, unless the acts are continuing or unless the lawyer/client is using the representation to carry out the misconduct).