Confidentiality Norms and Government Lawyers

68 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2008

See all articles by Kathleen Clark

Kathleen Clark

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: June 1, 2008


This article addresses the confidentiality obligations of government lawyers. It examines the rather complex question of the identity of a government lawyer's client. On the specific issue of confidentiality, the article discusses how several legal doctrines impact the confidentiality duty: open government laws, statutes encouraging whistleblowing by government employees, and common law doctrines regarding the disclosure of government wrongdoing. These doctrines suggest that, as a substantive matter, government lawyers may disclose information that is subject to mandatory disclosure under freedom of information laws and information regarding government wrongdoing. But as a procedural matter, state supreme courts and governments need to establish procedures for government lawyers to follow in disclosing this information.

Keywords: lawyers, public law, ethics

JEL Classification: K39, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Clark, Kathleen, Confidentiality Norms and Government Lawyers (June 1, 2008). Washington University Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 5, 2008; Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 08-08-02. Available at SSRN:

Kathleen Clark (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-4081 (Phone)
314-935-6493 (Fax)

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