Confidentiality is an essential element in building a trusting lawyer-client relationship. After all, if you’re a criminal defense lawyer and your client withholds vital details because he or she doesn’t believe the information will be kept confidential, then the entire case could be derailed. Court reporters in San Jose have a similar duty to abide by a code of ethics, including the responsibility to preserve the confidential nature of the information they record.
Understanding Confidentiality and Attorney-Client Privilege
Even among experienced lawyers, you’re likely to hear some people using the terms “duty of confidentiality” and “privileged information” interchangeably, despite their subtle differences. Both of these legal concepts have the end result of encouraging clients to disclose sensitive information to their attorneys. However, the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality is typically specified in the state’s ethics rules (American Bar Association Model Rule 1.6). The attorney-client privilege, on the other hand, is in common law. It’s essentially a rule of evidence, as it prohibits lawyers from being required to testify about the statements their clients made.
Identifying When Information Is Privileged
The attorney-client privilege applies to many circumstances, even if the person who revealed the confidential information isn’t actually a client. For example, a privileged relationship exists when:
- A prospective client or an actual client solicits legal advice from a lawyer.
- The prospective or actual client intends to keep the information confidential.
- The lawyer acts in any professional capacity.
Attorneys have the duty to keep privileged information confidential, even after the client is no longer a client, and after the client’s death.
Using a Secure Case Management System
Even if you are careful to never discuss the details of a case with anyone who isn’t authorized to have that information, you might inadvertently experience some lapses in confidentiality, especially if you store information electronically. Work with a court reporting company that offers a 24/7 virtual case management system. The security of this system allows you to access your online case file repository at any time without worrying about a breach in information security.