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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