St. Denis & Davey, P.A.

Legal Malpractice Issues

Highlighting the exceptions to attorney-client privilege

| Jun 28, 2018 | Professional Malpractice Law |

When one hires an attorney in Jacksonville, he or she does so with the expectation that said attorney will utilize every available resource to support his or her representation. However, an attorney can only work with what he or she has been given, and one of his or her most important resources will be the information his or her client provides. The principle of attorney-client privilege facilitates the exchange of that information. According to the National Constitution Center, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized as much when it ruled “(i)ts purpose is to encourage full and frank communication between attorneys and their clients, and thereby promote broader public interests in the observance of law and administration of justice.”

Yet having this protection in place does not necessarily mean that no information shared between one and his or her attorney will ever get out. There are exceptions to attorney-client privilege, most notably the “crime-fraud” exception. Per the American Bar Association, the crime-fraud exception stipulates that if a client provides his or her attorney with information that could assist in furthering or covering up a crime, the attorney is then legally obligated to share that information with authorities. 

An attorney might also be compelled by law (such as being called as a witness during trial proceedings) to divulge information given to him or her by a client. An attorney might also disclose otherwise protected information in order to effectuate a client’s representation. If an attorney’s actions are called into question (either by a regulatory board or through a lawsuit filed by a former client), he or she may also share client information both when seeking legal ethics advice and defending him or herself from criminal accusations or litigation.