Group coupon websites are a popular marketing ploy among a variety of service providers. The concept behind Groupon, Living Social, and similar sites is for consumers to select from local deals for discounted services. Typically, once a threshold number of coupons are sold, the service provider and the website share the proceeds. The professional liability community has caught on to this marketing trend and is taking notice. However, be aware professionals; utilizing similar group coupon sites is risky due to ethical limitations.
One of the foundations of the attorney-client relationship is confidentiality. Apart from limited exceptions, attorneys are generally precluded from disclosing a client’s confidential information to a third-party and must act at all times in the client's best interest. It is well established that failure to do so may constitute an ethical violation and perhaps professional misconduct. A recent $40 million lawsuit claims that an attorney’s breach of his client’s confidences led to the client’s murder. Uh oh.