In a recent case of first impression, Barton v. U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that an online communication involving an online intake form filled out by prospective clients gave rise to an attorney-client relationship governed by the duty of confidentiality and subject to attorney-client-privilege. The Ninth Circuit’s multi-factored analysis suggests a modified framework for evaluating when the duty of confidentiality and attorney-client relationship can be formed through online communications. This Article discusses Barton’s implications for attorneys and law firms that communicate with clients and potential clients online. Attorneys should be able to avoid an unexpected duty of confidentiality created through an online communication by clearly defining the attorney-client relationship and adhering to the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Client Confidentiality, Professional Privilege and Online Communication: Potential Implications of the Barton Decision,
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Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wjlta/vol3/iss3/3