Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses “Attorney Client Privilege”

The Attorney-Client Privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications.  It is a legal concept that protects information exchanged between a client and his or her attorney and ensures that the information remain confidential.  The privilege is designed to encourage an open and relaxed communication between attorney and client so that all legal needs can be addressed at ease.  The attorney-client privilege may be raised at anytime during any type of legal proceeding.

There are general requirements under state law that pertain to the attorney-client privileged that should be addressed.  There are several elements to take note of in order to understand the circumstances to establish the existence of the attorney-client privilege.  The proclaimed holder of the privileged is a client or has sought to become a client by obtaining legal advice from an attorney.  One of the most significant exceptions within the attorney-client privilege is when the communication was made in the presence of individuals who are neither attorney nor client or when information has been disclosed to external individuals by the client.  Another exception to this privilege is when a client or potential client seek counsel from an attorney for the purpose of committing a crime or wrongdoing. The attorney-client privilege is also forfieted when the client has voluntarily waived the privilege.  An attorney speaking publicly in regards to a client’s personal business and private affairs can be reprimanded by the bar and/or disbarred, even if the client is no longer being represented by that attorney.  Exposing of a current or past client’s private information is viewed as a breach of the attorney’s responsibility toward legal trust.

Because the attorney-client privilege often prevents disclosure of information that would be relevant to a legal proceeding, courts are cautious when analyzing objections grounded in the privilege. Most courts will  require that certain elements be demonstrated before confirming that the privilege applies.  The five-part test is typically the initial factor taken into consideration in a court’s reasoning of accepting a claim for privilege.  The five-part test reads as followed: (1) the person asserting the privilege must be a client or someone attempting to establish a relationship as a client; (2) the person with whom the client communicated must be an attorney and acting in the capacity as an attorney at the time of the communication; (3) the communication must be between the attorney and client exclusively; (4) the communication must be for the purpose of securing a legal opinion, service, or assistance in some legal proceeding, unless for the purpose of committing a crime or fraud; and (5) the privilege may be claimed or waived by the client only.

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