What is Included in Attorney/Client Privilege?

January 28, 2022 | Personal Injury

The well-known phrase “attorney-client privilege” refers to a legal privilege that helps keep confidential communications between a client and their attorney secret. There are various reasons why attorney-client privilege is important to a functioning judicial system. It is important to understand what is included in attorney-client privilege and what is not included under these privileges.

Defining Attorney-client Privilege

Looking directly at a definition from the Legal Information Institute provided by Cornell Law School, we can see that “attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that works to keep confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client secret.”

Attorney-client privilege is important in the legal community because individuals need to be able to talk to their attorney without fear that their attorney will have to present this information to other parties when asked. Additionally, attorney-client privilege prevents an attorney from turning around and giving other parties information against their client.

The reality is that attorneys need to have full information from their clients, and attorneys will perform their jobs much better when they have complete information and are able to use this information to build the case on behalf of their clients.

What is Included in Attorney-Client Privilege?

The attorney-client privilege covers a few different levels of relationships between a client and their attorney. For instance, the attorney-client privilege does exist for a potential client who seeks out legal advice when searching for options for their legal issue. Attorney-client privilege also certainly exists if an attorney agrees to represent an individual.

Virtually every type of communication or exchange between a client and their attorney will be covered by the attorney-client privilege. This includes oral communications as well as any other type of communication such as emails, letters, and text messages. 

What is Not Included in Attorney-Client Privilege?

When we examine information from the National Law Review, we see that not all communication with an attorney is considered privileged. First, any individual who casually speaks to an attorney about legal or non-legal matters will typically not be covered under attorney-client privilege. Communication between an individual and an attorney “will only be privileged when the subject communication meets certain criteria, and it is confidential.” 

In order for the communication to be privileged, a person must have requested legal advice, or the discussion must have reason related to a request for legal assistance. These communications must be kept confidential, meaning they are limited to the client and the attorney. If any person outside of the attorney-client relationship receives communications, the privilege is lost. For example, if an individual client includes their friend in an email to their attorney, the attorney-client privilege ceases to exist. Even if this communication is made in confidence, this will waive the privilege.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity in Indiana, you need to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Indianapolis accident lawyer can help you through this entire process. They will let you know what communication is considered privileged with your case. In general, any communication you have with your attorney will be covered through the attorney-client privilege so you can speak freely with regard to your situation.