Relationships are special between lawyers and their clients. Actually, both in depth and in their established rules of engagement, they are totally unlike any other professional relationship. In addition, the partnership is highly unbalanced, and only the client’s interests warrant consideration.
That lack of equilibrium is deliberate. This helps to hold the justice scales of society in check by keeping clients squarely in the driver’s seat of their legal future. A founding pillar of our modern legal system, known as attorney-client privilege, governs lawyer and client contact.
Attorney-client privilege serves to keep a client’s correspondence private with their attorney. It is an inherent right that is protected by the federal and state courts. When providing clients with legal services designed to represent their best interests, maintaining the right is important.
As such, all parties involved in the processing of client correspondence are required to adhere to the same attorney-client privilege rules when conducting duties under the supervision of an attorney. This includes paralegals, legal secretaries, and anyone else with privileged client correspondence that may have interactions.
While paralegals are barred from being an attorney-client privilege participant, they must act in a way that upholds and respects the privileges shared between an attorney and a customer. To do so, paralegals are necessary legally and ethically.
Model Rule 5.3, which applies to non-lawyer assistants, in the Model Rules for Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association, verifies that someone employed under the supervision of a lawyer must make assurances that their “conduct is compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations.”
Regardless of who is the source of a client privilege violation, be it the solicitor, paralegal, or other employees of the law firm, it is essentially the lawyer’s fault. In the event that a privilege violation comes to light, it will be the lawyer involved in the privilege of the client-attorney who will be penalized.
For that reason, in order to ensure privilege is preserved, lawyers need to be careful with their actions and when supervising their staff.
It is important for law firms to be organized in a way that prevents consumers from being subjected to possible privilege violations. There are several steps you should take to ensure the protection and legal treatment of customer confidentiality before a law firm’s doors even open:
Built-in applications tailored for use in law offices.
To represent the interests of individual consumers, the attorney-client dynamic has been rigorously structured. When legal matters are at stake, the right to privilege is meant to hold consumers in the driver’s seat. In most cases, with the introduction of a few protections throughout your business, privilege can be easily upheld. The central ethical dedication of every law office is maximizing the consumer experience, and preserving privilege is one way to show consumers that all members of their compassionate legal team protect their interests.