Attorney-client privilege is a key component of the American legal system. By ensuring that many kinds of conversations and other interactions between an attorney and client are protected from being subjected to subpoenas and evidence requests, the privilege ensures that clients can have frank, open discussions with attorneys without concern that an opponent might use them in litigation. Like a fortress under siege by an attacking army, attorney-client privilege can come under assault during the course of a case, as opponents look for ways to draw out information that doesn’t qualify for protection. Therefore attorneys and clients need to take care to preserve the privilege wherever possible.
provides that a client has broad authority to refuse to disclose and prevent others from disclosing confidential communications that fall within three categories:
- Communications between the client and the client’s lawyer.
- Communications between the client’s lawyer and the lawyer’s representative, such as a paralegal.
- Communications made for purposes of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services to the client, such as if the client’s attorney has a discussion with the attorney of a third party about a shared issue.
The attorney-client privilege applies to conversations between an attorney and client even at the very beginning of their relationship, before an engagement letter is signed and even if the client decides to not hire the lawyer. This means, for example, that a preliminary consultation about a potential case would be covered. This allows individuals to seek out advice and evaluate attorneys with an open and honest discussion of their questions.
There are several important limits on attorney-client privilege. Some of these limits prevent communications from ever being protected by the privilege, while others simply eliminate it.
- The client may waive privilege. Waivers can be intentional or accidental. In general, talking about a privileged communication in a nonconfidential context can threaten to destroy its protections, or prevent the privilege from applying.
- The privilege does not apply to communications by a client who is knowingly seeking advice in connection with planning criminal activity.
- In certain cases the privilege doesn’t apply where the communications themselves are of central importance to the case. For example, if the attorney helped a deceased client prepare a will, the communications between the client and attorney won’t be privileged if there’s a dispute about the client’s intent. Another example is if the communications pertain to claims of wrongdoing by the attorney.
- Attorneys are required to disclose information that the attorney believes will prevent a crime that could lead to serious injury or death.
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other disputes. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site