The Ninth Circuit has issued a decision which analyzes the impact of disclaimers on law firm websites which purport to deny formation of an attorney client relationship to those who submit information through forms on law firm web sites. The Ninth Circuit permitted a plaintiff who had submitted information to a firm while disclaiming creation of any attorney-client relationship to claim privilege over it. In contrast, a recent Interim opinion from California suggests that lawyers can avoid creating a confidential relationship only by specifically denying any obligation of confidentiality in order to avoid disqualification by a prospective client using the firm’s website. The same conclusions were reached a few months earlier in Nevada Formal Ethics Opinion No. 32 (March 25, 2005). Taken together, the opinions suggest that denying confidentiality is necessary to avoid disqualification, but doing so will preclude the person who submits the information from claiming privilege over it. Professor Hricik suggests some model language that avoids these issues.
Ninth Circuit analyzes the impact of disclaimers on law firm websites
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