How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 29, 2013 8:18 pm

Hey there,

I'm starting my summer associate position next week.

But, I'm a little worried.

I know that we are not supposed to speak about client matters to anyone outside the firm. But how about within the firm?

Are we allowed to talk about client matters with other associates, summer associates, partners, and supporting staff? Assuming that the person we're talking to is not the person assigning the project.

Sorry if it's a poor question.

target
Posts: 688
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby target » Wed May 29, 2013 8:56 pm

You should ask this question to your mentor, your coordinator or the assigning attorney.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 29, 2013 9:07 pm

OP here.

Got it.

So, are there no general rules?

Is this the sort of thing that differs widely according to the firm?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 29, 2013 10:28 pm

My impression is that you can generally discuss only within the firm unless a screen has been set up. If you're assigned to a project, usually they'll tell you who you can't speak about the project with within the firm for purposes of screening.

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby IAFG » Wed May 29, 2013 10:33 pm

Dude, find more interesting things to talk about with your fellow summers/associates who aren't on your assignment.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 29, 2013 10:36 pm

^^^

OP Here.

That's what I thought as well. One of my own professors mentioned that everyone employed by the firm is basically on a "gag order" and they cannot disclose anything they see or hear in/at the firm to anyone not employed by the firm.

She also said that whenever you're assigned a project, it is the assigning attorney's responsibility to specifically tell you who within the firm cannot hear or see what you're doing because of a "conflict of interest" issue.

But, I was worried that my impression was incorrect.

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby guano » Thu May 30, 2013 12:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:^^^

OP Here.

That's what I thought as well. One of my own professors mentioned that everyone employed by the firm is basically on a "gag order" and they cannot disclose anything they see or hear in/at the firm to anyone not employed by the firm.

She also said that whenever you're assigned a project, it is the assigning attorney's responsibility to specifically tell you who within the firm cannot hear or see what you're doing because of a "conflict of interest" issue.

But, I was worried that my impression was incorrect.

Gag order might be an exaggeration. For the most part you can talk in general terms to friends and family, as long as you don't get into specifics
"today I researched whether an employee who purposefully injured himself is entitled to workman's comp" is probably fine.
"today I determined that Walmart has to pay $50,000 to an employee who took one of the guns that was on sale and shot himself in the hand because he was hearing voices" is definitely not cool

Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 30, 2013 4:19 am

At my summer firm, every project has a code name. Everyone on the project knows what is going on. This allows you to talk about the project openly with others either in the firm or in the public without worrying about confidentiality issue.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8446
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby thesealocust » Thu May 30, 2013 11:35 am

Very practice area/firm dependent. M&A guys tend to throw code words around a lot.

Lateral2013
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 10:21 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Lateral2013 » Thu May 30, 2013 11:51 am

With fellow SA, discuss in very general terms. No need to use specific client names or the like. When speaking with attorneys, if they are the one assigning you the project or someone you know is on the team, feel free to discuss openly AT THE OFFICE. If you find yourself needing to talk to an attorney outside of the office at a social event (and I would really discourage this, as it makes you look like a gunner, and we are just at the events to drink, we have no desire to talk about work, I promise you) then speak in terms of "that project" or "the issue" I was researching etc. If I was at an SA event and one of the SA came up to talk to me about work and started dropping client names or mentioning specifics, I would really question his judgment. You never know who is listening in a public place. But again, please, unless a transaction or case is going to blow up unless you talk to the attorney IMMEDIATELY, save it for the office the next morning. Unless it's to thank us for the interesting project and to tell us how much you are learning, then that's ok, but stop there and move the conversation to something more human.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3142
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu May 30, 2013 7:21 pm

I find it a little curious that your firm didn't tell you anything about this.

Edit: just saw that you haven't started yet. They will probably address all of your concerns during orientation. Don't sweat this.

shock259
Posts: 1737
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:30 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby shock259 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:35 am

You'll get like 8 lectures about this during orientation. Basically, you're free to talk about whatever with whoever within the firm (unless there is an ethical wall set up, which will be made explicitly clear to you when you start working on the matter). Don't talk about anything confidential in public where it may be overheard (elevators, coffee shops, etc). Don't talk about any specifics with anyone outside of the firm (clients, specific issues, or anything like that). You can talk (very) generically with outside people, but err on the side of caution. You can tell your mom you are working on an initial public offering. But don't tell her it is for Company XYZ, it's going public in 2 weeks, and the price is going to be $10 per share.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273311
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:41 am

thesealocust wrote:Very practice area/firm dependent. M&A guys tend to throw code words around a lot.

This. You may find yourself working on "Project Frozen Banana" so that it's not obvious outside your team who you're representing or why.

User avatar
BVest
Posts: 5700
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:51 pm

Re: How does client confidentiality work at a firm?

Postby BVest » Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Very practice area/firm dependent. M&A guys tend to throw code words around a lot.

This. You may find yourself working on "Project Frozen Banana" so that it's not obvious outside your team who you're representing or why.

Well, there's always money in the banana stand.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.