Let’s revisit a 2015 Indiana State Bar Legal Ethics Committee Opinion (see our previous post here). Contemporary Professional Responsibility co-author Peter Joy explains in the ABA Journal this month how a conflict between a state statute and a binding Rule of Professional Conduct may create risk for lawyers. The Opinion covers an Indiana statute that requires immediate reporting by those “who have reason to believe” that a child is an abuse or neglect victim; lawyers are not exempt from reporting. The ethics opinion considers how this can be squared with Rule 1.6, finding, as Professor Joy explains, “that a lawyer only has to follow the law and report child abuse or neglect necessary ‘to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm,’ which is the standard in Indiana’s confidentiality rule for permissive reporting of a client’s confidence.”
This is a great teaching example of how other rules governing lawyers – beyond the Rules of Professional Conduct – may create confusion, or even a conflict with the binding RPC. A good example for Chapters 1 or 4.