It’s normal for clients seeking legal help to have doubts about who they can trust. Lawsuits and legal counsel requires keeping a plethora of confidential and secret information exactly that – confidential and secret. A client’s sensitive matters should not be taken lightly, and many law firms do not put an emphasis that. Attorney-client privilege should always be fully respected and taken seriously. Keep on reading for all you need to know about attorney-client privilege.
What is Attorney-Client Privilege?
To start off, attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest, most recognized and respected privileges for private communications. As a matter of fact, the United States Supreme Court even ruled that “communications between all corporate employees and the company’s counsel may be protected by the attorney-client privilege” in Upjohn Co. v. United States.
However, for the attorney-client privilege to exist, the communication between a client and attorney must have the intent for it to remain confidential, as well as making sure that the lawyer is acting in a professional manner (versus acting like a friend). On top of this, the communication between them must be with the purpose of offering and receiving legal advice.
When a client has 100 percent trust in their attorney and they feel like they can fully confide in them, they will make full disclosures that will allow the attorney to provide accurate and useful representation and offer candid advice. How else could a client fully trust their attorney if they felt their information and secrets could potentially be spread to others in the law firm or third parties?
The Privilege of the Client
Attorneys are not allowed to reveal spoken or written communications with clients that expect to remain rationally confidential. Without the client’s consent, the attorney is not able to discuss any private matters discussed with the client to anyone that is outside of their legal team. In this scenario, the privilege is of the client, not the attorney since the client can control the privilege in that sense.
In the case of a client’s death or after a relationship between an attorney and client ends, the attorney-client privilege still stands. Unless the client specifically says otherwise or there is some exception in place, an attorney is never allowed to disclose a client’s secrets.
When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Not Apply?
There are several ways the attorney-client privilege would not be applicable. It doesn’t extend to a consultation having occurred between an attorney and a client or its subject matter – it would only protect the specific content discussed in the consultation. The privilege may also be in jeopardy if the attorney and client communications themselves are used to further a crime or fraud.
Another example of when the attorney-client privilege would not apply is if there is a client who had told confidential information to a third party in the past who is not an attorney, but then gives the same information to an attorney. Then, the attorney–client privilege will still be protecting the communication to the attorney. However, it will not protect any communications with the third party that was disclosed information.
Some may wonder, “can my attorney use what I say against me?” If a client has a consultation with an attorney that is intended to commit a future crime, then the attorney-client privilege probably would not apply. Most states either allow or require attorneys to divulge information given by client that could prevent misfortune, such as serious injuries or even death.
If you have any questions about attorney-client privilege, feel free to contact The Berman Law Group. Our trustworthy attorneys have successfully managed hundreds of attorney-client relationships. The Berman Law Group is able to help you have the experienced and loyal attorney you deserve. Call (800) 375-5555 now for a free consultation.