Client files trashed

April 1, 2009
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In the course of their job, lawyers find out some pretty personal stuff about their clients. Information that I’m sure the clients want to remain confidential and protected. Imagine my surprise when I read a news article today about an attorney who threw old client files into the trash while moving. Discovered by a businessman who worked near the attorney’s office, the files contained personal information – Social Security numbers, financial records, and photos.

Here’s the kicker: the attorney said he didn’t know there was personal information in the files, but he left them there days after he was contacted by a reporter about the find.

Aren’t there rules about protecting lawyer-client privilege and client information? Not only was trashing the files a possible violation of that privilege, but it could lead to anyone grabbing a Social Security number or bank account number. Why wouldn’t you take a close look at what you were trashing? If you can’t examine those documents very carefully and pay attention to detail, then how much confidence can the attorney’s clients have in his representation of them?

If I hire an attorney and pay them a ton of money to represent me in a case, I expect they’ll protect my personal and confidential information. I hope none of the attorney’s current or former clients who had their files dumped become victims of identity theft because of this, and I also hope this is just another reminder to attorneys, and other professionals who have access to personal information, to do everything they can to keep that information confidential.
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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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