San Diego Law Review

Document Type



This essay delineates a three-tiered approach that incorporates not only the lawyer’s duty to the client and to society, but also the lawyer’s obligation to take into consideration the duty to self, which includes fidelity to the lawyer’s personal ethical values and commitments. In addition, rather than placing the various interests in hierarchical opposition, requiring that one duty invariably prevail over the others, the three-tiered approach looks to consider ways in which competing interests might balance or, at times, be reconciled with one another. To illustrate the three-tiered approach to the lawyer’s ethical obligations, this essay focuses on the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality. In so doing, this essay both expressly and implicitly relies yet again on the work of Fred Zacharias, whose pioneering articles raised basic and crucial questions about the duty of confidentiality, while his later scholarship continued to explore the issue of confidentiality in the context of a variety of areas of legal ethics.