Keeping secrets is my business.
Attorney client confidentiality and privilege are legal terms of art. Today’s blog will deal with confidentiality and privilege will be in a follow up blog.
Confidentiality is an ethical obligation on the the attorney to keep your business, your business. That means that your identity, the fact you called, or had an appointment, and the content of the discussions are all private. It means it is kept a secret to the extent it needs to be.
Confidentiality does not mean you may not disclose some information to others. If there is a pending suit and I am hired and file on your behalf then those facts are no longer confidential. If I need to disclose some facts to have an expert evaluate them, then to that extent, the disclosure to a third party, is no longer confidential. However, confidentiality can apply to third parties, including; experts, other attorneys in the firm, and staff in the firm.
The American Bar Assoc. Model Rule 1.6, states:
“A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).”
“The rule prohibits a lawyer from sharing any information learned about their client–whether learned directly from the client or not–that is related to the representation without permission from the client. This is a broad duty. However…there are a number of instances where disclosure is permitted without a client’s consent, including preventing death or substantial bodily harm, preventing the client from committing a crime or fraud that will injure another, preventing or mitigating harm that may result from a crime committed by the client, compliance with other law or a court order, securing legal advice about compliance with the rule, establishing claims and defenses in the event of a dispute between the lawyer and the client, or resolving potential conflicts of interest for the lawyer. Given these numerous exceptions, a lawyer must pay close attention to the particular facts of their situation when determining whether disclosure is permitted.” ABA, Model Rule 1.6
Matthew Thompson is a Mississippi Family Law Attorney and keeps your secrets.