Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1378

 Confidences and Secrets--Disclosing a Former Client's Failure to
Include Certain Assets on a Bankruptcy Petition 

You have indicated that an attorney represented a client in a
divorce proceeding and, as a result of the negotiations, a
separation agreement was signed and personal property divided. 
Subsequently, because of non-payment of legal fees and other
disagreements, the attorney-client relationship was severed.  The
client then filed a petition in bankruptcy and bankrupted the
attorney fees owed, listing the former attorney as a creditor. 
As a result of the earlier representation, the attorney possesses
information that the former client received artwork and antique
furniture and expects to receive installment payments from the
equity on the marital home.  The attorney has learned that the
former client neglected to include those items as assets on his
bankruptcy petition.  

You have asked the committee to opine as to the propriety of the
attorney's disclosure of the former client's failure to include
on his bankruptcy petition the assets indicated.

The appropriate and controlling disciplinary rules relevant to
the issue you have raised are DR 4-l0l(B)(2 and 3) which prohibit
a lawyer from using a client's secret or confidence to the
disadvantage of the client or to the advantage of the lawyer or a
third person, and DR 7-l02(B) which requires that a lawyer who
receives information clearly establishing that a person other
than his client has perpetrated a fraud upon a tribunal shall
promptly reveal the fraud to the tribunal.  (emphasis added)

The Committee believes that the information you describe is not
protected by the pertinent disciplinary rule since it is
information contained in the property settlement between the
parties which was not created with any expectation of privacy and
therefore does not constitute a secret under the rule.  Thus, the
Committee is of the opinion that it would not be improper to
reveal the information you indicate involving assets not included
in the bankruptcy petition.

Committee Opinion
October 1, 1990