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This article addresses an aspect of the law and rules governing attorney-client confidentiality: What—if any—information about client matters can lawyers share with their significant others?

The question was publicly presented most recently in Disciplinary Counsel v. Holmes and Kerr, Slip Op. No. 2018-Ohio-4308, a disciplinary case decided by the Supreme Court of Ohio (the “Holmes and Kerr” case). In our own practice, we have seen similar situations at other law firms. In addition, there have been other reported cases involving outcomes even more serious than professional discipline. These situations may not be commonplace, but, for all sorts of reasons, lawyers face the temptation every day to tell their loved ones and immediate family about the matters on which they are working. This article will highlight the ethical and legal issues that arise when lawyers actually do divulge client secrets in these circumstances, often inadvertently, as well as the obligations of law firms to report the matter to their clients and to the disciplinary authorities when they discover that an improper communication has occurred.

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