New ABA Ethics Opinion Guides Government Lawyers

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 509 on Feb. 28, 2024.  According to the announcement,  Formal Opinion 509 provides guidance on how disqualification rules apply to both current and former government lawyers under the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. “It specifically addresses issues raised  when these lawyers know confidential government  information about a third person.”

The model rules define confidential government information as “information that has been obtained under governmental authority and which, at the time this rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law from disclosing to the public or has a legal privilege not to disclose and which is not otherwise available to the public.”

For additional discussion of Formal Opinion 509, see the recent article in the ABA Journal, Government lawyers’ use of ‘confidential information’ in private practice clarified in new ABA ethics opinion, by David L Hudson Jr.

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