Matters such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and similar issues are complicated. They can involve confidential or sensitive information that you may like to keep private.

However, you may need to hire a lawyer if you’re ever involved in a case related to such issues. Your attorney will only be able to provide you with quality representation if you are comfortable discussing potentially sensitive details of your case. You can’t worry that your secrets will be leaked. If you are, you may refrain from telling your attorneys about matters that are relevant to your case.

This is why our legal system has attorney-client privilege rules. They help clients discuss their cases openly without having to worry their attorneys will share personal details with others.

Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege

The concept of attorney-client privilege is not a new one. It in fact dates as far back as the time of the Roman Republic.

The main purpose of attorney-client privilege is to ensure that a lawyer cannot be compelled to testify against their own client. However, it has evolved over the years. Although there is no official attorney-client privilege law in the United States, it’s generally understood that attorney-client privilege prohibits attorneys from sharing sensitive information about their clients’ cases with others.

For example, suppose you’re in the middle of a divorce. You might have to discuss certain embarrassing details about your divorce with your attorney. You might not want friends, family, or employers to learn about these details. Thus, your attorney must not discuss your case with those uninvolved in it. They must also reasonably strive to keep your information from leaking out to others.

Destroying Attorney-Client Privilege 

Attorney-client privilege only applies to attorneys (and their staff) and clients — not third parties. Therefore, if you discuss the details of your case with you attorney when a third party is present, you may have destroyed the privilege. That you shared information in the presence of a third party may indicate you didn’t intend for the information to be kept secret. 


You cannot also waive attorney-client privilege to allow your lawyer to disclose certain information. Generally, your lawyer will have you sign a waiver indicating you have waived your right to attorney-client confidentiality with regards to specific information.

When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Arise?

It’s worth noting that there is no official standard to determine when attorney-client privilege arises. It applies as soon as the attorney-client relationship begins. You don’t always have tp sign a contract with an attorney to begin the relationship. However, most lawyers will have you sign an engagement form to memorialize the beginning of the relationship.

Here’s another example to illustrate these complexities. You’re looking for a divorce lawyer. You call one up and share details about your case. You may also ask for basic legal advice. However, you have not hired this lawyer yet. You may not end up doing so. It’s therefore difficult to clearly assess whether attorney-client privilege applies to your call.

Attorney-client privilege can be a complex topic. If you still have concerns, you should discuss them early with your attorney so you both understand when attorney-client privilege does and does not apply.

You may also have some ground rules you want your attorney to know about. Discuss them during these early talks. For example, you might want your attorney to know you’d like to be informed when you’re discussing your case within earshot of someone who doesn’t work for or with them.

Your main goal is to establish a relationship in which you are thoroughly comfortable talking about your case with your lawyer. Remember, this is key to getting the results you want.

For more information, call our family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to us online by visiting our contact us page today.