Today I will be discussing Attorney-Client Privilege so that we can have a better understanding of what that legal term means. The Attorney-Client Privilege is a law that protects between attorneys and their clients and keeps them confidential. This privilege encourages openness and honesty between attorneys and their clients because attorneys cannot reveal Attorney/Client communications. This privilege becomes especially important in the litigation context because privilege communications, whether written or oral, are not disclosed to the opposing party.
The general requirement for a valid assertion of Attorney-Client Privilege is the asserted holder of privilege is client, and the person to whom the communication was made, is a member of the bar of a court, or his subordinate, and in connection with his communication, is acting as an attorney, and the communication relates to a fact of which the attorney was informed by his client, without the presence of strangers, for the purpose of securing primarily either, an opinion on law, or legal services, or assistance in some legal proceeding, and not for the purpose of committing a crime or tort, and the privilege has been claimed, and the privilege has not been waived.
The Attorney-Client Privilege is fragile, and may be subject to wavier when the content of a confidential communication is disclosed to a third person with no legimate need to know the information, even in some instances where the disclosure is inadvertent. A wavier can also occur where the communication takes place in public, or in some less than secure environment (office of general counsel, pg 2). The privilege does not attach to communication in furthering of an on going or prospective illegal activity. In addition, the privilege does not apply when attorney defends himself or herself against charges of wrongful conduct (legal guide issue, 1998).
The privilege does not usually apply to fee arrangements, the fact of representation, or the identify of the client. Communications that further an on going or future crime or fraud are not privileged. The privilege focuses on the communication. It is unconcerned about, and does not affect the information within the communication, as it exists outside the box. It does not bestow an independent protection and the information and the privilege is not affected by the information nature and status. A persistent misconception is that a client’s communication of nonconfidential information precludes the communication from being confidential, and therefore, the Attorney- Client Privilege from being applicable.
The first line of reasoning-requiring the client to communicate confidential information in order to assert the privilege reflects a fundamental albeit widely held, misunderstanding about privilege. The nature of the information contained in the communications from the client to an attorney is irrelevant to the communications privilege status. Regardless of where the client acquired the information, or of the information confidential or public nature, the content of what the client communicated to the attorney is privileged. The Attorney-Client Privilege is an evidentiary rule that protects both attorneys and their clients from being compelled to disclose confidential communications between them made for the purpose of furnishing or obtaining legal advice or assistance. The privilege is designed to foster frank, open, and uninhibited discourse between attorney and client so that the clients legal needs are competently addressed by fully prepared attorney who is cognizant of all the relevant information the client can provide.
- www. stanford. edu/dept/legal/about/attorney_client. html; Retrieved October 20, 2006 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Attorney_client_privilige;
- Retrieved October 20, 2006 www. calstate. edu/GC/Docs/attorney-client_privilge. doc;
- Retrieved October 20, 2006 Attorney Client Privilege by Paul R. Rice (1999) www. findacticles. com; Retrieved October 20, 2006