One of the oldest and most valued rights is the attorney-client privilege. This stops a attorney from being forced to testify against his or her client. The purpose of this right is to ensure that clients receive correct and knowledgeable legal counsel by facilitating full disclosure to their attorney without fear of disclosure of the details to others. Written and oral correspondence are protected by the right and covers both private and institutional clients. The right stretches from the lawyer to include employees of the legal office who arrange correspondence to and from the attorney.
For each contact with an attorney, the attorney-client privilege does not extend. The correspondence must be to, from, or through an attorney, and meant to be private for the right to occur. In addition, the object of the correspondence must be to seek or obtain legal advice. For example, an e-mail or memorandum about a legal issue from one administrator to another is usually not privileged since such an e-mail is not addressed to or from an attorney for legal advice purposes.
For the right to apply, correspondence must be held private. The right may be extinguished if the content of attorney-client correspondence is revealed to people outside the university or even to individuals within the university who are not personally interested in the matter.
Take caution when sending advice to another party with regard to e-mail messages, since such behavior can waive the privilege. It is important to bear in mind how open an e-mail can be. As a rule of thumb, you do not want to put it in an e-mail if you are not ready to put it in a blog.
The right of an attorney-client does not apply to the fact that there has been a meeting between an attorney and a client, or to the general topic of the consultation. During the meeting, it protects only the content of messages. The protection, for example, would protect the negotiations between the two persons, such as the counsel requested or granted.
A lawyer is often asked to take part in events that do not usually require formal legal counsel or representation. The attorney-client privilege does not exist in these circumstances. Only because a lawyer is in the building, a meeting with legal counsel in attendance is not covered. Where a prosecutor is called in to play a certain role and may not act as a lawyer, the right does not apply.
Simply because they are issued to or checked by an attorney, records do not immediately become privileged. An current, non-privileged record that is submitted to an attorney would then not be privileged.
General communications does not become privileged and of those obtaining a copy or “blind” copy, an attorney is identified. If the author attempts to communicate to someone in the company the substance of the advice of an attorney with a genuine right to inform, the correspondence is privileged as long as the text falls under the scope of the above mentioned covered written communications.
The right only applies to messages that are meant to be confidential by the client. Communications taken in a non-private context or in the presence of third parties, which are not required for the reason for which the counsel has been contacted, are not confidential and are not privileged.