When you discuss your family law case with your lawyer, you want to know that your communications – whether written or verbal – are private and confidential. The law imposes a duty of confidentiality on lawyers when it comes to communications between the lawyer and his or her client.
Once you establish a lawyer-client relationship, your lawyer must keep all communication that relates to legal advice confidential. With few exceptions, the duty of confidentiality under the “solicitor-client privilege” remains in place even after your case concludes and the lawyer-client relationship terminates.
Exceptions to the Solicitor-Client Privilege
As with most rules, there are exceptions to the rule of privileged communications. One of the most comprehensive exceptions is client waiver. A lawyer is not required to maintain a client’s confidence if the client waives confidentiality, either explicitly (in writing, for example) or implicitly. For example, if you tell your lawyer something and then later post the exact same information on Facebook, the information is no longer protected by the solicitor-client privilege.
Your lawyer can also break confidentiality if he or she reasonably believes a disclosure of confidential client information is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm. If, for example, you tell your lawyer you intend to kidnap your child or harm your spouse, and your lawyer reasonably believes you intend to act on your threat, he or she can break confidentiality.
Telling Third Parties Confidential Information
It’s worth noting that third parties are not bound by the lawyer’s duty to maintain confidentiality. For example, if you invite a family member or close friend to accompany you to your lawyer’s office, these third parties are under no legal obligation to keep the things you tell your lawyer private.Are the Things I Tell My Lawyer Confidential?