Someone is much more likely to be truthful and forthcoming with their lawyer if they know that their conversations cannot be shared with anyone else. That’s why attorney client privilege was designed, to help encourage open and honest communication between clients and attorneys. This transparent communication between lawyers and their clients helps them strategize around bringing forth the best results in a case.
Attorney-client privilege applies only if there is an attorney-client relationship.
The most common example of this will be if there has been a signed agreement that outlines the terms of retention of the lawyer. Attorney-client privilege also often appl to potential clients as well.
Generally, someone cannot claim attorney-client privilege if that person is simply sharing information with an attorney, such as a friend or family member. Simply telling something to a lawyer does not mean it’s confidential, unless you are that lawyer’s client in some way.
When does the attorney-client privilege NOT apply?
If you have a contract with a lawyer, there are circumstances where the attorney-client privilege wouldn’t apply to a particular situation. Here are a few examples of when that might occur.
- A third person is involved in the conversation. You may not have the protection of attorney-client privilege if you include people who are not clients in on your communications. The most common example is a family member. If you have a child or parent that wants to sit in on your conference with your attorney, you may be inadvertently waiving your right to attorney-client privilege for that conversation. The same can be said if you copy in other people on email communications as well. This general rule applies even if the third-party is a witness in your case.
- You waive the privilege. It is up to you to assert attorney-client privilege. In many cases, your attorney will assert this privilege on your behalf, but your lawyer really can’t stop you from talking to anyone. The moment you tell someone else about conversations that you and your attorney had, you are waiving your privilege.
- The attorney must use the information to defend themselves. If you start a lawsuit against your lawyer for malpractice, for example, the attorney involved may be able to use conversations you had that would otherwise be privileged to defend herself.
- The information puts someone in imminent danger. Attorneys have an ethical violation to report information that puts someone at risk for severe injury or fatality. That means that if you threaten to kill someone else to your attorney, and your lawyer has reason to believe that you will act on that threat, your lawyer must report it to the authorities.
It is also important to note that if you call an attorney and start sharing intimate details about you or your situation right away, chances are that you will not be protected by attorney-client privilege because you have not yet hired that lawyer.
Using Attorney-Client Privilege to Your Advantage
Premier Law Group can help you use attorney-client privilege to your advantage in your car accident claim or other legal claims. Set up an appointment with a member of our experienced team to learn more. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 206-285-1743 to get your FREE consultation today.