A significant percentage of attorneys offer free consultations. While this is a fair solution for potential clients, as they get to evaluate different lawyers before choosing a suitable one without spending money, some may wonder if their conversations are protected.
If the lawyer repeats information from these consultations to someone else, will it constitute legal malpractice?
Here is what you should know about attorney-client privilege when you haven’t yet hired a lawyer.
It may apply
If you seek legal advice from an attorney, which means they are operating in their professional capacity, a consultation may be privileged. However, the circumstances may need to be private. For instance, when you speak with an attorney in their office with no one else, you may reasonably expect secrecy.
It may not
In some instances, speaking with an attorney you haven’t hired may not guarantee attorney-client privilege. For example, if a lawyer informs you that they won’t represent you, perhaps they are not skilled in your case, but you continue to communicate with them.
What should you do if malpractice occurs?
If you believe the circumstances surrounding your consultation reasonably assured confidentiality, but the lawyer has disclosed what you informed them, you may have experienced legal malpractice. It will be best to obtain more information about your case to know the moves to make.
Can you prevent it?
To avoid such misunderstandings, you should tell every lawyer you consult with you would wish your communications to be privileged. If they agree to your request and allow you to continue giving them details about your case, they may owe you attorney-client privilege. If they don’t, then you know to cease communicating anything you want to keep private.
If you have experienced legal malpractice, you should consider your options to protect your rights.