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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

Recent Iowa and Massachusetts ethics opinions declared that an attorney may owe ethical obligations to prospective clients who send the attorney just a single email regarding legal assistance. These ethics opinions are part of a trend whereby jurisdictions are extending the duty of confidentiality to prospective clients who send unsolicited emails to attorneys, when those persons reasonably believe that the conveyed information will be held in confidence. These opinions highlight the importance for all attorneys to disclaim duties of confidentiality and representation, particularly when advertising online. This article discusses ethical opinions regarding prospective clients who send unsolicited emails and concludes by providing pointers to help attorneys avoid unintentionally extending ethical duties.

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