Secrecy rules can put lawyers in the hot seat, prof writes

Law professor Liz Tippett

Secrecy plays an important role the legal system, and that’s often why attorneys find themselves at the center of things when controversy erupts, a UO law professor writes in a widely circulated essay.

Liz Tippett, a faculty member in the UO School of Law, writes in The Conversation that being able to confide in an attorney without fear of having the information disclosed helps ensure that people are properly represented and can take full advantage of their legal rights. It is the legal profession’s version of an armored car with tinted windows, “intended to convey and provide security for its occupants when they are at their most vulnerable,” she said.

But safeguards built into the system mean that secrecy can be breached when lawyers or their clients misuse the privilege, Tippett said.

“Lawyers are expected to serve as zealous advocates for their clients, but they also have broader duties to maintain the integrity of the justice system,” she writes. “A powerful client who goes too far may discover, perhaps too late, that the keys to the privilege can be taken away.”

The article was reprinted in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and numerous other outlets. To read the full article, see “Lawyers keep secrets locked up — so they get asked to do the dirty work.”