What Happens in the Law Firm, Stays in the Law Firm: Attorney-Client Privilege
The Attorney-Client Privilege
The attorney-client privilege allows lawyers and clients to communicate freely. The attorney-client relationship hinges on communication. Communication helps the lawyer avoid surprises, obtain a quality result, and keep their client’s mind at ease.
More specifically, the attorney-client privilege protects confidential information learned by an attorney before and after being retained. So, most communications you have while looking for an attorney to hire will be protected. For the privilege to apply the communication must be made for the purpose of helping a lawyer provide legal services to the client and the communication must be confidential. See Texas Rules of Evidence 503 and Federal Rules of Evidence 501. This privilege extends to the attorney’s employees (e.g. paralegal) as well.
The attorney-client privilege belongs to you, the client, and certain safeguards must be implemented to ensure it is not waived.
How can the Attorney-Client Privilege can be waived?
Two examples of how the attorney-client privilege can be waived are:
- Client relays to the attorney they are ABOUT TO COMMIT an act that will likely end in death or substantial bodily harm to another person. Under these circumstances the attorney is required, under the law, to disclose the confidential communication.
- 3rd party waiver – “Loose Lips, Sink Ships.” Confidential information relayed to someone other than your attorney can waive the attorney-client privilege. This includes family members, friends, co-workers, partners, etc. For example, sending an email discussing facts of the case to someone other than your attorney can waive the privilege and later be used against you in court.
The attorney-client privilege is an important tool necessary for effective representation. As the client, you should feel comfortable and confident that communications with your lawyer will remain confidential. Understanding the privilege can help you rest easy knowing what happens in the law firm, stays in the law firm.
Disclaimer: This information is for informative purposes and does not establish a legal relationship. Every case is different and you should contact a qualified attorney to assist you.