The attorney client privilege protects client information that is given from client to his/her attorney in confidence to get. The attorney usually does not have to, and cannot ethically reveal it to others. This rule helps keep information flowing freely so that the attorney can give thoughtful, thorough legal advice to the client, and the client can speak freely, unafraid.
Attorneys are ethically obligated to keep the information that their clients give to them. This is pretty simple concept to understand, and a comforting one.
However, there are some special situations:
- A client tells an attorney that is going to hurt himself or others; (the attorney is required by law to report it);
- An attorney finds out that child abuse, elder abuse or abuse of a disabled person is going on (the attorney is required to report it if s/he cannot get the client to do so. These reports may usually be anonymous).
- A person who is involved in the case, but who is not the client (such as a close family member) wants the attorney to reveal confidential information. (The answer is “No, not without the client’s permission.”)
- The client says something is “confidential” but reveals it to the attorney in public, or in front of others who are not covered by the attorney-client privilege. (this is why your attorney may not allow anyone to be a part of conversations between the two of you- it can “mess up” your privilege!).
- Even if a case is closed, this attorney-client privilege applies.
Attorneys take this rule seriously. It is a sacred trust and the attorney client privilege keeps our legal system working, and helps clients.
Kalish Law Office – “Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference. Since 1984.”