The relationship that a client has with his client is one of the most important relationships that one will have in his life. Most importantly, the relationship is built upon trust. Even when an attorney is representing a client with criminal charges, and the client is hesitant to reveal all details to his attorney initially, the trust is still there in the aspect that the client is trusting that the attorney will get him out of trouble, or at least help to reduce the possible punishment.
In seeking an attorney for representation, it is important to remember that your attorney is there to advocate and fight for you. With that said, for the most effective advocacy and representation, it is critical for a client to be transparent with his attorney. When going through the litigation process, the other party has attorneys who are working for their clients just as your attorney is working for you. Thus, they are digging and doing research to build or enhance their case. While doing so, majority of times there is information that is discovered that clients may not want exposed. This is where truth and transparency from the client comes in. There is nothing worse than when your attorney is either in court or serving in another legal capacity on a client’s behalf, and negative information is exposed and your attorney is completely unaware of the information and therefore unprepared to respond in an appropriate manner. So, you may think to yourself, how do I know that my attorney will have by best interest and keep what I tell him confidential?
Well, in addition to having years of legal education and passing a bar examination, attorneys are responsible for following certain rules under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility provides an explanation of the confidentiality of an attorney and his client. A lawyer shall not release any information directly related to the representation of a client unless the client gives the attorney authorization to do so or if the authorization to release such information is implied in order to carry out representation. A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent that the attorney believes necessary in limited circumstances as follows:
(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(2) to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services;
(3) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services;
(4) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client;
(6) to comply with other law or a court order; or
(7) to detect and resolve conflicts of interest arising from the lawyer’s change of employment or from changes in the composition or ownership of a firm, but only if the revealed information would not compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client.
Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
It is pretty obvious that the circumstances in which an attorney may reveal confidential client information that relates to representation are all extreme instances. Thus, you should be confident that your attorney will take all communications, meetings and any information that you share with him and use it to effectively advocate for you, as opposed to using it to further your legal woes. Moreover, an attorney has to be very conscious about information that he shares because there is always the potential that if an attorney reveals the wrong information, or information that he was not authorized to disclose, the attorney could be sanctioned or disbarred by the American Bar Association (ABA). In conclusion, its normal to feel apprehensive when sharing personal information with a total stranger, but when working with your attorney, it is best to be 100% honest with him and to share any information that may come up during the course of litigation so that your attorney will be prepared and can advocate for you in the best possible manner.