An attorney represented a client in a divorce.  Subsequently, the
client files for bankruptcy and lists the attorney's unpaid fees as
an obligation.  The client, however, does not list certain assets
that the client owns which are listed in the property settlement
agreement that was incorporated into the final decree of divorce. 
Because it was so incorporated, the property settlement agreement
is a part of the public record.  

You have asked the committee to opine whether it would be improper
for the attorney to reveal, to the bankruptcy court, the
information in the property settlement agreement regarding those
assets not listed by the former client in his bankruptcy petition.

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rules are DR 4-101(A),
DR 4-101(B)(1), (2) and (3).  The committee also refers you to LEO
1378 which is essentially the same fact pattern as the one you have
presented.  The committee is taking this opportunity to reconsider
the conclusions reached in LEO 1378.  To the extent that this
opinion is inconsistent with LEO 1378, it is overruled.

The committee opined in LEO 1378 that a property settlement
agreement is not created by the parties with any expectation of
confidentiality and so it is not a secret under DR 4-101.  However,
the committee opined in LEOs 1147, 1347, 1349, 1367, 1407 and 1609
that a secret under DR 4-101 can nonetheless be information that is
either public or known to third parties if it is information
"gained in the professional relationship that the client has
requested be held inviolate or the disclosure of which would be
embarrassing or would be likely to be detrimental to the client."
[DR 4-101(A)]

In LEO 1147 the committee opined that once information becomes a
matter of public record it is no longer confidential unless it is
still a secret under DR 4-101.  In LEO 1347,  the committee
reiterated its position that even information which is public or
known by third parties may be a secret under DR 4-101 if the
attorney knows that disclosure would be either embarrassing or
detrimental to the client.  In LEOs 1307 and 1367, the committee
opined that the duties imposed on an attorney by DR 4-101 survive
the termination of the attorney-client relationship, even the
client's death.  (See LEO 1207 and EC 4-6.)

Therefore, the committee believes that under the circumstances of
your hypothetical, where the attorney knows the contents of the
property settlement agreement as a result of the prior attorney-
client relationship, the attorney must carefully examine the
information contained in the settlement agreement and determine
whether it is still a "secret" under DR 4-101.  The committee
believes that if the revelation of the information would be either
embarrassing or detrimental to the attorney's former client then
the information must be a secret under DR 4-101 which the attorney
has a duty to keep confidential.  This duty exists despite the fact
that others share the same information or the information is a
matter of public record. 

Under the facts presented, a question is also raised as to whether
the attorney may or is obligated to reveal the information
contained in the former client's settlement agreement in order to
prevent his former client from perpetrating a fraud on the
bankruptcy court; or, to support the attorney's claim, as a
creditor, in the former client's bankruptcy.

The controlling disciplinary rules are:  DR 4-101(D)(2) which
requires an attorney to reveal information which clearly
establishes that his client has, in the course of the
representation, perpetrated a fraud related to the subject matter
of the representation upon a tribunal; and DR 4-101(C)(4) under
which an attorney may reveal confidences and secrets necessary to
establish the reasonableness of his fees.

With regard to the attorney's obligation under DR 4-101(D)(2) to
report client fraud on a tribunal, the committee has previously
opined that the fraud must have occurred during the course of the
attorney-client relationship.  Legal Ethics Opinion No. 693.  In
your hypothetical situation, the attorney was no longer
representing the client when the bankruptcy petition was filed. 
Thus, the alleged fraud did not occur "in the course of the
relationship" as required by DR 4-101(D)(2).  In addition, the
alleged fraud is not related to the subject matter of the
representation undertaken by the divorce attorney as required by DR
4-101(D)(2).  Therefore, the committee is of the opinion that the
attorney is not permitted under DR 4-101(D)(2) to reveal any
information with respect to his former client's fraud on the
bankruptcy court.

Under DR 4-101(C)(4) an attorney may reveal confidences and secrets
to establish the reasonableness of his fees.  While the former
client listed as a debt the fees owed to the former attorney in his
bankruptcy filing, it does not follow that the fees are disputed by
the client.  Therefore, if the fees listed by the former client are
not disputed, DR 4-101(C)(4) does not apply.  Under those
circumstances, the attorney may not reveal to the bankruptcy court
the existence of assets which his former client has failed to
disclose.  Such a revelation would  exceed the scope of permissive
disclosure authorized or contemplated under DR 4-101(C)(4).  The
protection of client confidences and secrets is so fundamental to
the attorney-client relationship that any exceptions to this
bedrock principle must be strictly limited.