Tag Archives: confidentiality


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.

Attorney-Client Privilege: Some Secrets are Made to be Broken

Attorney–client privilege is a legal concept that protects communications between a client and attorney and prevents either from being compelled to testify to those communications in court, unless waived.

hywards /freedigital photos.net

The attorney–client privilege is one of the oldest privileges for communications. The United States Supreme Court stated that by assuring confidentiality, the privilege allows clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and   effective representation.

But, not everything is protected. Communications to third parties are not and neither are credible threats of serious bodily harm or death! When a lawyer believes that it is reasonably certain that a death or substantial bodily harm will occur if the lawyer doesn’t reveal that information, then he may reveal that information.” 

A Pennsylvania lawyer recently reported his client’s admitted actions when it was disclosed that the client planned to  “take back” the home of his ex-girlfriend using an AR-15 rifle and body armor. Upon being arrested, the client, Howard Timothy Cofflin Jr., told police that he planned to kill his ex-girlfriend and anyone who tried to stop him.  He had also allegedly searched on his cell phone for “how to kill a state trooper” and “killing with an AR-15.”

Cofflin, already charged with harassment and making terroristic threats,  now he faces new charges of attempted murder, terrorism, aggravated assault and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.  http://www.abajournal.com/

Matthew Thompson is a  Domestic Relations Attorney in Mississippi and advises clients as to what privilege means, what is protected and what rightfully is not.

Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

Keeping Quiet; Family Law’s Most Difficult Challenge

Loose lips sink ships, less is more, mind your business, and be nice or at least indifferent. All good advice, given everyday and routinely ignored.

Coping with litigation, especially family law litigation, is tough.  “Venting” is common and can be therapeutic,(click here for dealing with stress) but be careful who you vent to.  If it is done to the wrong person it will come back to bite you.   But…you say, “I am only telling the truth.”

The truth is if your cheating spouse loses his job everyone is worse off.  The truth is if your spouse, who is a sorry parent because they are more interested in going to the Electric Cowboy, is vilified in front of the children it will be harmful to them. (They will know in time.  An exception may be made if the parent’s sorriness affects the children’s actual safety).

Also, telling people your business does not bode well for reconciliation.  Telling your “friend that has been through this” what a crummy guy he is, how sorry he is, and how abusive he is, means you and that “friend that has been through this” will NOT be friends when you and Mr. Sorry get back together.   I know what you are thinking, “No chance in hell of that,” but stranger things have happened…

So who can you vent to?

  • Your Lawyer.  We are paid to listen, counsel and advise…though we all have our limits.
  • Your Counselor.  It’s their job, too.  They listen, do not judge and can offer coping mechanisms. Don’t have a counselor? Ask your lawyer.
  • Your Preacher.  They have heard it before and are very familiar with Sodom and Gomorrah and fire and brimstone.  Your situation is probably not that bad.
  • Your Momma.  I don’t mean this in the slang sense.   Really, speaking with a parent, or other trusted adult, can help, even if you are a grown-up, yourself.  Just be careful because what you say to a lay person is not protected by attorney-client privilege, doctor-patient privilege, nor priest-penitent privilege.  (I have less concern about you telling your mom how sorry he is because deep down mom always “knew” it).
  • Your Friend that has been through it.  This can be a great resource of knowing what to expect and leaning on a sympathetic ear.  Be careful here, too, as there is no privilege and she could be playing both sides, and reconciliation means y’all likely won’t be friends.

Be sure you let your attorney know who you are talking to.  They need to know.  They may have represented that friend, or otherwise been involved in that case, and may have some insight as to whether you should be talking to that person.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that knows how to keep quiet about your business.  Confidentiality and privilege are two things taken very seriously at TLF.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm