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Attorney- Client Privilege: An Overview of Confidentiality and Its Limitations

Attorney- Client Privilege: An Overview of Confidentiality and Its Limitations

As a client, it is important to know that almost everything you tell your attorney is privileged, therefore confidential. The key, however, is that not everything will be confidential. This article will help guide you through what is and is not considered confidential in your communication with your attorney. Understanding this will help protect your rights and will also help you recognize if you have a case against a negligent attorney who you had retained for services, and may have not fulfilled their duty to you as their client.

Every case will be different and there are certain laws in your local jurisdiction that could help protect you. Speak to an experienced attorney that could provide the right legal advice with regard to legal malpractice. Do not allow a negligent attorney take advantage of your situation; seek the right legal support from a competent attorney. In many situations, information in general is available on the State Bar’s website to point you in the right direction. The problem however, is that legal malpractice cases are difficult in the fact that the presumed defendant is typically an attorney, who understands the law.

Attorney- Client Privilege

Attorney- client privilege is an evidentiary privilege that protects the confidentiality of communications between attorneys and their clients. Under this rule, an attorney may not disclose personal secrets or confidential information shared to him or her by his or her client. This rule also states that no person can force the attorney to do so. The general purpose of this rule is to allow clients the opportunity to freely disclose personal information to their attorneys in an effort to allow attorneys to provide accurate and effective representation.

Client Privilege

Normally, attorney- client privilege will apply under the following conditions:

  • A client has communicated with an attorney with respect to obtaining legal advice
  • A potential client has communicated with an attorney with respect to obtaining legal advice
  • The attorney is proceeding in a professional capacity
    • With an understanding that the attorney is not acting as a friend
  • The client, or potential client, has communicated with the intention for the conversation to be private

An attorney may not reveal written and/or oral communications about their clients or their client’s case when the client has reasonably expected this exchange of information to remain private. An attorney that has received this private information may not repeat this information to any other party outside the legal team, without obtaining consent from the client. The right to privacy is therefore the client’s privilege, not the attorney’s. The client may choose to waive his or her rights to privacy but the attorney may not.

After the Case

It is important to recognize that the right to privacy does not end once the case has been finalized. Attorney- client privilege will generally stay in effect even after the relationship has ended. This is also generally the case after the client has perished. An attorney cannot disseminate a client’s private information without the client’s consent, unless there has been some sort of exception.

The Bottom Line: Seek Competent Support

Trust is a very frail aspect of every relationship. In a legal perspective, the attorney’s failure to keep trusted information safe can be reprimanded; speak to an experienced attorney that can guide you through the process of filing a claim against the negligent attorney. It is important to note that laws and regulations are ever changing and examples of other legal malpractice cases may or may not reflect similarities within your specific situation. Every case is different and this is even more the case with attorney/client disputes.

The attorneys at The Knez Law Group have extensive experience in dealing with legal malpractice claims. They are dedicated to preserving the rights of client’s that have been victimized by negligent attorneys.

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