During your court case, your attorney is usually your best resource and ally. They guide you, build a strong case, negotiate on your behalf, and manage unexpected problems. All this means that how you work with your lawyer is key to success.
Attorney-client confidentiality is an essential tool for success working as a team. But what does this mean? What does it include or not include? Here's a guide to the key five Cs of attorney-client confidentiality.
All types of communication between you and your lawyer are protected by confidentiality. It includes in-person conversations, texts, phone calls, emails, and letters. In a world increasingly reliant on nontraditional communication, protecting all forms of communication is vital.
To be protected, the communication must be kept confidential between you and your lawyer. If other parties are privy to the conversation — such as someone who was copied on an email — then it is unlikely to continue being covered under this privilege.
It may seem obvious, but you must be a client of the attorney. Many lawyers create formal retaining agreements, but this isn't necessarily required as long as you honestly believe you are a client of the lawyer.
This may include being covered under a group client, such as your employer or union. It doesn't, however, extend to lawyers you may have had a business relationship with in the past but aren't currently a client of.
4. Counsel (person)
A lawfully-practicing lawyer is referred to as your counsel. Your interactions with that counsel are subject to the protections of law so long as the person meets state governing board criteria.
The confidentiality, though, generally extends to those assisting them with your case, such as paralegals or junior lawyers. However, before you speak of anything private with firm employees or outside experts, it's good to determine whether or not they fall into these categories.
5. Counsel (advice)
You must be seeking legal advice, or counsel. Bragging to your lawyer over drinks about how you drive recklessly is unlikely to fall under this category if you aren't looking for legal advice at the same time. Similarly, if you give insider stock tips to your attorney, these likely don't qualify as seeking legal counsel.
Want to know more about attorney-client confidentiality? Start by meeting with an experienced attorney in your state. They can answer all your questions so you fully understand how and when you're protected as you pursue your case in the legal system. Make an appointment today to learn more.
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