You are counsel for an organization which has suffered a financial loss as a result of forgery and embezzlement by one of its office staff. You have advised the responsible board members and officers that they have no obligation of reporting the criminal conduct to law enforcement officials, and that their sole obligation is to take steps calculated to recover the embezzled funds.
You have asked the Professional Guidance Committee for an opinion as to whether your advice to the client violates any rules of ethics or other applicable facets of law.
While Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct may require the reporting of the misconduct of another lawyer to professional authorities, the Rules impose no similar obligation to report the misconduct of nonlawyers or to advise one's clients to do so.
Whether you are otherwise required by law to advise your client to report this conduct to law enforcement officials is a question which is beyond the charge of this committee to provide advice concerning the interpretation, application and observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In this regard, you should be aware that, were you to counsel your client against compliance with a reporting requirement imposed by other applicable law, your conduct could constitute a violation of Rules 8.4(b), (c) or (d).
The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.