Attorney-client privilege essentially refers to the relationship between a client and their lawyer. Attorneys have certain duties regarding the information provided to them by their clients.
If you retain a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer from H&P Law, you can rest assured that the principles of attorney-client privilege will be strictly followed, and your rights will be protected.
The Definition of Attorney-Client Privilege
Attorney-client privilege is a key component of the American legal system. It is the concept that the communications between an individual and their lawyer are confidential. The primary purpose of attorney-client privilege is to encourage and promote confidentiality in communications between clients and their attorneys.
Attorney-client privilege is essentially communications made in confidence between a client and counsel for the purpose of providing legal counsel. It protects communications between the parties from being disclosed without the client’s permission. When clients are assured that the information they provide to their attorneys is protected, they are more likely to make full disclosures, allowing the lawyers to provide them with effective and thorough legal representation.
What Constitutes an Attorney-Client Relationship
To have attorney-client privilege, an attorney-client relationship must first exist. In other words, privilege and confidentiality do not exist until the relationship between client and lawyer is securely established. This relationship may be established through an engagement agreement, a fee contract, an oral agreement as to the attorney’s scope of representation, and the appearance of the lawyer on behalf of the client.
An express agreement is not always necessary to establish an attorney-client relationship. In some instances, the relationship may be implied by the parties’ conduct. Such an implied relationship may occur after the payment of fees, the delivery of legal advice, and the history of legal representation between the parties.
The Scope of Attorney-Client Privilege
What is covered under attorney-client privilege is easier to understand when it is broken down. The main idea of the concept can be explained using the five Cs. These Cs are as follows:
- Communications: All forms of communication between a client and their attorney are protected by confidentiality.
- Confidential: The information provided to a lawyer by their client must be kept confidential if it does not include other parties who are privy to the information.
- Client: A person must be a current client of the attorney to have protection.
- Counsel: A client’s communications are confidential if they are with their counsel and their representatives, such as their paralegals.
- Counsel: A client must be seeking legal counsel for their communications to be protected.
If you have questions regarding what is protected by attorney-client privilege, consult with a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas. We can answer your questions and give you a better understanding of how you are protected as you pursue your legal claim. You should know your rights, and our team can help.
The Elements of Attorney-Client Privilege
There are certain legal elements that must be met to qualify for attorney-client privilege. Without all the elements, no privilege exists. These elements are as follows:
- A client must be seeking legal advice from their attorney.
- The attorney must be acting in their professional capacity.
- The client must have meant for their communications to be confidential and acted as such.
If these elements are not met, attorney-client privilege does not exist. For example, the information a person shares with a lawyer as a friend at a party likely does not count as privileged information. Similarly, if a person copies a third party on an email to their attorney, it will probably not be considered privileged.
When Attorney-Client Privilege Can Be Waived
There are times when attorney-client privilege can be waived by the client. For example, if a client divulges confidential information in the presence of a third party, there will likely be no privilege. The mere presence of a third party when a client volunteers confidential information usually terminates privilege.
Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege
Attorney-client privilege is not absolute. There are several exceptions to attorney-client privilege. The most common of these exceptions include:
- Waiver by the client: The client can share their own confidential information, but their lawyer cannot.
- Fiduciary duty: A corporation’s shareholders can relinquish the corporation’s privilege.
- Public statements: Information shared by a client loudly enough for others to overhear it is not privileged.
- Information shared in a consultation: If a person shares information in an initial consultation with a lawyer and does not ultimately retain them, the information may not be privileged.
- Joint representation: If two people share an attorney in the same case, neither party can assert attorney-client privilege against the other in subsequent litigation.
- Future crime or fraud: A client’s information is not protected if they are seeking their lawyer’s help with furthering a crime or seeking to hide a future crime.
- Death of the client: If litigation commences between a decedent’s heirs, privilege may be broken to clarify their actual intentions.
- Disputes between the client and attorney: A client cannot claim privilege to keep their lawyer from submitting evidence in case of a dispute.
Some of these exceptions are conditional. Many of them have caveats and are only relevant in certain situations. Consult with a Las Vegas personal injury attorney for a greater understanding of when your attorney privilege may be broken.
Matters Not Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege
Not all aspects of an attorney-client relationship are protected. There are some details that are not included in attorney-client privilege. For example, the following information is not generally considered confidential:
- The existence of the relationship
- The length of the relationship
- The general nature of legal services
- The conditions of the retainer agreement
- The date of communications
- The identity of people copied on communications
- The identity of individuals in meetings
- The length of a consultation
Again, not everything is covered by the attorney-client privilege. There are certain exceptions and details not protected. However, generally speaking, this privilege largely protects clients and encourages honest and relevant information sharing.
Protect Your Rights with H&P Law
If you need a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, contact our team at H&P Law. We will protect your information and fight for the relief you deserve. Reach out to us as soon as possible for a free and confidential evaluation.