The notion that “anywhere can be an office” rang true during the pandemic and, for some, has led to a more flexible approach to working environments. But while the definition of “office” may be looser, an attorney’s ethical obligations are not. Attorneys should remain extra vigilant with respect to their duty to maintain confidentiality when discussing work in public places.
Lawyers generally understand the protections of the attorney-client privilege, but some fail to appreciate that the duty of confidentiality is broader. Rule 1.6 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct and Business and Profession Code section 6068, subdivision (e)(1) set forth the duty of attorneys “[t]o maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself to preserve the secrets, of his or her client.” That duty is subject to very limited exceptions.