Understanding Attorney- Client Privilege

When a client provides his or her attorneys with sensitive information during a consultation among them, such information is protected under attorney-client privilege. But what does that mean, it means that the attorneys or their client cannot be compelled to provide such information to any other party including the legal system unless the client waives this privilege. Therefore, attorney- client privilege can be defined as the permanent protection of information or legal advice sought by a client from his attorney in his capacity as his attorney. So, information or advice sought from a legal counsel as a friend or relative or colleague is not protected herein.

This privilege is only applicable where the relationship between the legal counsel and the client can be firmly established. This means that unless you have hired the legal counsel to be your legal representative, this does not apply. Therefore you should ensure that you are careful with the extent of the information you give to potential attorneys. The relationship can easily be proven through the use of signed contracts, representing the client in a meeting or court proceeding, agreement letters and even verbal agreements among the parties involved. In addition to this, the legal counsel involved must be a member of the bar in the state in question and the information given or advice sought must be in relation to the criminal or civil suit facing the client for the privilege to apply.

There are three major situations under which this does not apply. The first one is in case the client disclosed information about committing a crime to the legal counsel. This means that they are premeditating about committing a crime and the legal counsel has the obligation to report this in order to prevent the crime. Secondly, if the information was provided in the presence of other people who are not admitted to the bar, the information cannot be protected. However, if the information was provided to the team of attorneys that will be representing the client, then this is protected under attorney-client privilege. Lastly, the client may waive this privilege due to personal reasons.