What is the attorney-client privilege?
The attorney-client privilege is essential to the attorney-client relationship. It preserves the confidentiality of communications between you and your attorney. This privilege is necessary to ensure full, uninhibited, disclosure of critical information and the sharing of candid information between yourself and your attorney. If it weren’t for the privilege, clients may be reluctant to share information with their attorney, which may ultimately hinder legal representation and hurt your case.
The privilege attaches to virtually every communication between you and an attorney. This includes both oral and written communication. An attorney-client relationship must exist before there can be a finding of attorney-client privilege, which is typically done with a signed retainer agreement.
However, when you are attempting to hire an attorney, it may be necessary to reveal certain information to the attorney that may be sensitive or otherwise damaging to your case. For example, in a personal injury case, you may have to divulge information about your medical expenses and lost wages in the initial consultation with a lawyers. This information is also protected, even if you don’t hire that attorney, or he or she decides not to take your case, if you –
- Reveal this type of information believing that you are seeking legal advice, and
- Are consulting the attorney in his professional capacity.
When meeting with an attorney, it is extremely important to share all information about your matter with your attorney so that he or she may provide you with thoughtful and good advice regarding your case. The attorney-client privilege allows you to share information regarding your legal matter with your attorney, even information that may be harmful to your case, without any concern that the information may be disclosed to the opposing party.