Attorney-client privilege is an important factor in the relationship and trust factor that a client shares with their attorney. This rule of confidentiality is designed to allow a person to freely speak with their attorney in order to give all of the information they have pertaining to their case, which in turn allows an attorney to effectively represent their client. With that, the information obtained in the attorney-client communications may not be used without the client’s consent.
How is attorney-client privilege established?
- A person establishes communication with an attorney.
- Communication is made between privileged persons.
- The content of the communication is made in confidence.
- The person is seeking to obtain legal assistance.
Are emails protected by attorney-client privilege?
Yes, if they are strictly between a client and their attorney with no one else included, and the communication in the email must specifically be regarding seeking (client) or providing (attorney) legal advice. Some emails with other in-house counsel may also be covered as long as it is concerning legal advice with no mixed purpose. Communications including the opposing counsel are not covered.
Are text messages protected by attorney-client privilege?
Yes, text messages are protected,;however, the ability to maintain privacy and confidentiality may be more difficult than with in-person communications or email. As with emails, as long as the nature of the text message is to seek or provide legal advice and does not include any other parties aside from the client and attorney, it is covered by the attorney-client privilege. In order to protect the privacy of the content of text messages, a texting platform including end-to-end encryption is advised.
When does attorney-client privilege start?
The moment a client speaks to an attorney with the intention of obtaining legal advice, and the attorney is acting as such, any communication shall be confidential. This can be waived by the client if they choose,;however, the attorney is held to the rules of confidentiality and may not divulge any information outside of the legal team working on the case.
Who can claim attorney-client privilege?
According to NRS 49.253 “The privilege may be claimed by the client, the client’s guardian or conservator or by the personal representative of a deceased client.”
What does and doesn’t it cover?
When a client speaks to their attorney in private, the conversation and any notes taken or recordings made of the conversation are covered under attorney-client privilege. If the conversation is had in public, or if the client repeats the information to someone else, the information is no longer protected.
In the instance where there is another party in the room who is privy to a confidential conversation between the client and their attorney, there are factors that determine whether the attorney-client privilege applies.
- Is the person assisting with the legal representation of the client?
- Does the client intend for the information being disclosed to be confidential?
- Does the third party fulfill an essential duty or role in conjunction with the case such as an investigator, expert, interpreter, or advisor?
Are there exceptions to the attorney-client privilege?
- If communications between an attorney and their client are deemed to intend to cover up a crime or a fraud, the attorney-client privilege is forfeited.
- If a third party not playing an essential role in the case is present or included in the communications, the information is not protected.
- If the information exchanged in a private setting with an attorney is then made public by the client, it is no longer protected.
- If the information disclosed is made in a setting where other parties may overhear or see the information inadvertently, it is no longer protected.
Are family members included in attorney-client privilege?
A client’s family members are not entitled to the information that is shared with a person’s attorney. This includes spouses and all other relatives unless they are acting as an advisor, are the client’s guardian or conservator, or are the personal representative of a deceased client.
How long does attorney-client privilege last?
Attorney-client privilege is perpetual. The confidentiality is to be maintained throughout the period of representation and thereafter, even upon the client’s death. Even in the event that additional confidential information about the client is obtained after the case is complete, the attorney is bound to the confidentiality. If the information becomes public knowledge; otherwise, the privilege is no longer protected.
At the Richard Harris Law Firm, our team of expert attorneys protect your privacy and dutifully maintain the integrity of attorney-client privilege. Contact the Richard Harris
Law Firm to discuss your personal injury case. Call or text (702) 444-4444 or fill out the online evaluation form to schedule your free case consultation.