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What does client-attorney privilege really mean?

If you are dealing with any legal matter (criminal or civil), it is in your best interest that you get adequate legal representation. In fact, this is your legal right. Besides potentially improving your odds of getting a favorable outcome for your case, having legal representation also ensures that you benefit from attorney-client privilege. 

An attorney-client privilege may mean many things. However, the cardinal point is accountability. But what exactly does this mean as far as your legal representation is concerned?

Understanding attorney-client privilege

Basically, attorney-client privilege is a legal obligation to keep communication between the attorney and their client confidential. The idea is pretty simple: the client is likely to disclose as much information (some embarrassing and uncomfortable) regarding the legal matter in question to the attorney for better representation. In return, the attorney has an obligation to keep this information confidential. 

For an attorney-client privilege to exist, the following elements must be satisfied:

  • There has to be an attorney-client relationship
  • The communication in question must relate to the fact of the case and must have been made for the purposes of seeking a legal service, opinion or assistance in a legal proceeding
  • The client must not have waived the privilege

Money does not have to change hands for communication to be deemed privileged. 

Attorney-client privilege is a crucial component of the American justice system. Besides promoting open communication with the guarantee of confidentiality, attorney-client privilege also promotes compliance with the law. Learning more about the California legal system can help you protect your rights and interests if you believe your attorney has breached an attorney-client privilege.