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Attorney-Client Privilege

Communications between an attorney and a client made during a professional meeting are considered confidential and do not have to be disclosed. The client owns this communication and therefore the client is the only individual who may waive this privilege. The purpose of this privilege is so that the client may be able to fully disclose all information to his or her attorney.

Privilege Does Apply

The privilege applies when the client has sought legal services from the attorney. There must be a clear attorney-client relationship in place. Any disclosure of information made prior to the commencement of the attorney-client relationship is deemed discoverable. The party seeking to use the privilege must be an actual client.

The communication between the client and the attorney must be made in confidence. This basically means that the communication should not be made in public or around third parties. If the communication is made in front of another, the privilege does not apply.

The privilege may be invoked by the client for both oral or written communications. The privilege may also extend to a paralegal or secretary working on the client’s file, depending upon that person’s involvement.

If the court orders disclosure, the attorney must invoke the attorney-client privilege. If the attorney breaks the privilege without the client’s consent, the client may seek to suppress the information divulged by the attorney.

Privilege Does Not Apply

The privilege does not apply in a few instances. Those instances include:


  • If the attorney’s services were sought to aid in the planning or commission of a crime.
  • If the client intends to commit a future crime.
  • When the privilege has been waived by voluntary disclosure by way of discovery or other means.
  • Between the client and other attorneys at the firm.
  • If the communication is made in front of a third party or in public.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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