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ETHICS OPINION 207
NUMBER 207 1922
Question. A decedent leaves several extant wills, under the later ones of which X is a substantial beneficiary. X consults B, a lawyer, and informs him of such wills, and is advised for a time by B. Before any will is actually filed for probate X receives advice from B which arouses her distrust. She leaves B and employs V, another lawyer, to conduct the probate proceedings. Thereupon B accepts employment from another legatee under the earlier will, offers it for probate, and opposes the probate of the later will; and B uses in his new employment and in opposition to the probate of the later will information and knowledge acquired through his conferences with X.
In the opinion of the Committee can B, once having been consulted by X, and having advised as to her rights, properly appear against her in proceedings subsequently instituted involving the assertion of such rights?
Answer, In the opinion of the Committee, on the facts appearing in the question, the lawyer who was consulted by and advised X should not have accepted employment antagonistic to her interests. The information disclosed by X to the lawyer was privileged, and the termination by X of the professional relationship did not release the lawyer from his obligation to keep her confidence inviolate and not to use it in hostility to her. Entire confidence between a lawyer and his client is essential to the proper discharge of the lawyer’s functions, and such confidence would be impossible if the client should be exposed to the risk of having the lawyer use or even put himself in the position of appearing to use in hostility to his former client information which he obtained in confidence.