You place all of your trust in an attorney when you hire them. You confide in them to push your case forward and get the results you deserve. For many, giving your personal information to another is nerve-wracking — it is difficult to trust someone you just met to keep sensitive information secure. Attorney-client privilege automatically comes with meeting legal counsel, protecting from other parties your communications with a lawyer. Before hiring an attorney, there are a few things to know about the attorney-client relationship.
What is attorney-client privilege?
Attorney-client privilege is a rule that preserves the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. Attorneys may not divulge a client’s secrets or force the client to divulge protected information in court. The privilege is often evoked when serious concerns exist about a matter developing into a lawsuit or the information bringing about criminal charges.
There are four basic elements necessary to establish its existence:
- A communication occurred.
- The communication was between privileged persons.
- The communication was made in confidence.
- The communication was made for the purpose of seeking, obtaining or providing legal assistance.
How does it protect and benefit me?
Attorney-client privilege protects nearly all types of communications between a client and an attorney. This includes oral communications and documentary communications such as text messages, emails and letters. These communications are privileged and secure, protecting the information contained within the communications from being used against you.
Why is attorney-client privilege important?
The privilege allows clients to openly share information with their attorneys so that they can get true, effective representation. When clients share all facets of their situation without fear of reproach, the attorney can identify and develop other relevant information to most effectively represent the client’s interests and further the client’s case. An attorney-client privilege also protects those asking questions to an attorney in contemplation of formalizing the relationship, which encourages compliance with the law through the sharing of information and knowledge.
Are there any boundaries on what can and cannot be said?
The protections of attorney-client privilege apply to discussions of previous acts. If an individual initiated communication in anticipation of future criminal acts, most states require a lawyer to disclose this information to prevent harm.
What are the exceptions?
Of course, opposing attorneys can challenge a claim of attorney-client privilege by asking the court to consider whether the information is truly shielded from disclosure.
The following steps should be taken to ensure that exchanges remain privileged:
- Address communications directly to your attorney.
- End the communications by asking your attorney for his opinion and analysis.
- Label the top of written communications as “Privileged and Confidential: Attorney-Client Privileged Communication.”
- Do not copy any other person on those confidential written communications.
- Do not communicate the information discussed with anyone other than your attorney.
Trust in Casey Devoti & Brockland
Putting your trust in an attorney can be a tall order — you probably feel you need someone with extensive experience to fully trust. Attorneys at Casey Devoti Brockland have seen it all before and understand the concerns you have when seeking legal representation.
Are you looking for an attorney to consult on your case — give us a call for a free consultation today.