February 13, 2015

Attorney-Client Privilege Basics: Why you Should tell your Attorney Everything you Know About your Case

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The relationship between an attorney and a client is protected by law as privileged, or completely private. With few exceptions, all communications between an attorney and a client fall within this protection, from your very first consultation. Even before you hire your attorney, anything you tell him about your case while you’re deciding whom to hire will be kept in the strictest confidence and cannot be used against you, even if he doesn’t end up representing you.

Attorney-client privilege is designed to allow you to tell your attorney anything and everything related to your case so that your attorney can give you the most accurate advice possible. Because of this privilege, you can focus on receiving good advice relevant to the actual facts of your case without danger that your attorney will reveal your secrets.

Moreover, because the privilege is held by the client, not the attorney, your attorney can never disclose what you’ve told her, unless you give specific permission for her to do so (or unless one of the rare exceptions to the privilege applies, such as when attorney communications are used to further a crime or fraud)..

Despite the attorney-client privilege, however, some clients worry about what their attorney will think if they share everything about their case. Because clients obviously want to win the case, they will sometimes hold back and not share some  information – especially information that isn’t good for their case. This is a mistake.

If something worries you about the facts of your case – for example, if you fear you were partially to blame for your traffic accident – talking it over with your attorney can help you know whether your worries are well-founded or insignificant. Even if your information could potentially limit your recovery amount, it is vastly better for your attorney to know all the bad facts upfront than to wait until they are discovered by the opposing counsel. If your attorney knows everything, he can help you assesswhether the bad facts  must be disclosed. If they must come to light, he can also help you determine the best timing and context  for the disclosure.

Like other privileges, the attorney-client privilege can be waived, either voluntarily or involuntarily. If you have any questions about the privilege, your attorney would be happy to discuss its reach and exceptions with you.

Because no two cases are alike, it is impossible for an attorney to predict how your case will go unless you share everything you know. Once she knows everything, your attorney is in a better position to evaluate how much your claim might be worth—and how best to proceed to collect what you are owed.

If you are in need of a legal malpractice, personal injury, medical malpractice, accident, or whistleblower lawyer in Tampa, Florida, the Tampa Bay attorneys of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore would be pleased to speak with you. We fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients. Click here or call us today at (813) 225-4000 to schedule a free consultation.

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