NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #95 - 01/30/1969
Topic: Data Processing
Digest: Law Office accounting information supplied to a data
Canon: Former Canon 37
May a law office, in the course of its accounting procedures, supply
a data processor with information on cases in its office covering the
date the case was received, the type of matter, the attorney source and
attorney handling, the estimated date of completion, the estimated fee,
billings, payments, outstanding amounts due, whether due for more than
four months, and the amount of time spent by each attorney (1) if code
numbers are used, or (2) if actual names are used?
Whether a client's communication is of a confidential nature is
usually a question of law. Drinker on Legal Ethics, page 132.
Canon 37 provides in part:
'It is the duty of a lawyer to preserve his client's confidences.
This duty outlasts the lawyer's employment, and extends as well to his
This question has been considered in ABA Inf. 912 and 1002. An
analogous situation was involved in ABA 154. The lawyer’s
professional duty prevents him from disclosing any information acquired
by him in confidence. Assuming that the disclosure to a data processor
was restricted to the stated information, that reasonable safeguards
exist for protecting its confidentiality, and that it is supplied only
for the purpose of law office accounting, it is the opinion of this
Committee that the disclosure would be ethical irrespective of whether
code numbers or actual names are used.