What clients need to know about the attorney-client privilege
No one wants their communications with their attorney to become public knowledge, or worse, ammunition for their opponent in a lawsuit, right? Fortunately, the attorney-client privilege protects from disclosure or discovery confidential communications between a lawyer and a client or prospective client when the primary purpose of the communication is to obtain or render legal advice. Generally, the privilege applies unless it is waived by the client, which most often happens by disclosure of the communication to a third party. Thus, a verbal attorney-client communication is not privileged when a third party is present or within ear-shot. Also, while an e-mail message can be privileged if it is sent between the attorney and client, it loses its privileged status if the client copies a third party or forwards the e-mail to a third party. A client who wishes to protect the privilege should ensure that communications with his/her/its attorney remain confidential.
- From RA Law Roetzel