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When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Not Apply?

By Butler Prather LLP on April 11, 2022

Anyone who has watched TV shows or movies surrounding interactions with an attorney has likely heard of the attorney-client privilege. This refers to an attorney being unable to speak to other parties about what their client says to them. In fiction shows, this attorney-client privilege seems unbreakable, and it is indeed an important part of the legal process. However, there are times when the attorney-client privilege does not apply.

What is the Attorney-Client Privilege?

The Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute states that “attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that works to keep confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client secret.”

Based on what you have likely seen in shows movies, that definition probably sounds familiar. The attorney-client privilege is important for the legal community. Any individual should be able to talk to their attorney without fear that their lawyer will turn around and use this information against them or tell other parties what they have said. The attorney-client privilege helps protect the integrity of the court by ensuring that a plaintiff or a defendant can give over all of the information necessary without worrying about reprisals.

An attorney needs full information in order to properly serve their client, whether that be the defense of their client or helping their client pursue a claim against someone else.

The attorney-client privilege covers various levels of relationships between the attorney and their client. For example, an attorney-client privilege will not exist at all for a person who is only a potential client seeking out legal assistance. The attorney-client privilege will not exist until an attorney and an individual agree on the representation.

After attorney-client privilege is present, just about any type of communication or exchange between the attorney and the client will be covered. This includes all oral communication as well as information exchange through text messages, letters, or emails.

When the Attorney-Client Privilege Does Not Apply

There are times when the attorney-client privilege does not apply. For example, any conversation a person has with their attorney about non-legal matters is likely not going to be covered by the attorney-client privilege. In order for communications to be privileged, it has to be clear that the person has requested legal advice or that the discussion was reasonably related to the request for legal assistance.

The attorney-client privilege only pertains to the attorney and the client (if that did not seem obvious enough). This means that any other person present that is not part of the legal team is not going to be covered under the attorney-client privilege. For example, if you tell your attorney something while your friend or coworker is present, or if you CC someone else in on an email with your attorney, then the attorney-client privilege will cease to exist.

Call an Attorney for a Discussion Today

If you or somebody you care about is thinking about initiating legal action, or if you thank you will face legal action from another party, you need to reach out to an Atlanta personal injury attorney immediately. Please speak to your attorney about what is covered under the attorney-client privilege so that you know ahead of time and can feel comfortable moving forward with your claim.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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