Attorney – Client Privilege
Note: This was featured as part of our Wednesday segment on Charleston’s 105.5 The Bridge with Box in the Morning. You can catch us every Wednesday morning at 8:50 am ET for the latest law tips and legal news. You can listen to the segment below:
Attorney-client privilege is an important aspect of the relationship between a lawyer and his or her client. This privilege is a seal of secrecy on communication between a client and attorney. The law encourages open and honest communication between the lawyer and client. The privilege of confidentiality also allows lawyers and clients to form relationships built on mutual trust. The existence of attorney-client privilege lets the client provide their lawyer with every bit of information relevant to a case so that the attorney can then represent the client as well as possible.
The confidentiality privilege between attorney and client generally works in two different ways. The first is from an ethical standpoint. When a client is completely honest with their lawyer and the lawyer therefore has all of the information necessary to make a case, the attorney is then less likely to unintentionally misrepresent their client or provide fraudulent information regarding the case.
Another way that attorney-client privilege works is through the rule of evidence. Privileged information that a client shares with their attorney cannot be used for evidence, unless the client relinquishes that privilege. As a result, lawyers can more easily gain the trust of their clients and build a strong relationship based on that trust.
Information is privileged only when shared solely between the attorney and client. In other words, attorney-client privilege does not apply if there is a third party present (other than a paralegal or other employee of the lawyer). If an attorney and client meet with an insurance adjustor after an auto accident, for example, the information shared between those parties is not privileged and can be used as evidence. Even a family member or close friend of the client is considered a third party, unless that family member is a co-client in the case.
Our lives are run by technology these days, and it is likely that some communication between attorney and client will take place online or via email. At the John Price Law Firm, emails between clients and attorneys are privileged, however most privileged information should be discussed in person. As for direct messaging on social media accounts, it is better to avoid this and other similar lines of communication. Private messaging on a public forum can be a bit tricky, and the best avenue for discussing privileged information is face-to-face.
If you have any further questions regarding attorney-client privilege or legal representation, contact the John Price Law Firm online or at (843) 552-6011.