There is a certain level of trust that must exist between an attorney and a client. The client has the right to expect that the attorney will keep things that are told to them confidential. The legal concept of attorney-client privilege is the basis for this expectation, and it is one that lawyers are supposed to uphold, according to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as cited by the American Bar Association.
There are some very limited situations that a lawyer is allowed to reveal information about their client without the client’s permission. The rules specifically state seven such situations:
- To comply with an order from the court
- To get legal advice about compliance with these rules
- To prevent death or bodily injury if it’s reasonably certain
- To prevent certain fraud or crimes
- To establish a defense in a case against the attorney related to the client
- To rectify, prevent or mitigate certain damages related to the client
- To address conflicts of interests with certain career changes
If a client provides that attorney with consent, the client must be informed of the possible ramifications about the situation, so they can make a decision with that information in mind. In order to have the protections of attorney-client privilege, there has be an attorney-client relationship established. This occurs when the lawyer takes on your case, so use caution with what you say otherwise.
Any client who feels their attorney has broken the attorney-client privilege should determine whether the case qualifies for a legal malpractice lawsuit. This could help them deal with any damages related to the matter.