Attorney Client Privilege
Attorney-client privilege and confidentiality are often mistaken as being one in the same; however, they are in fact different. While the attorney-client privilege protects communications between a client and his or her attorney from disclosure before a court, confidentiality protects a client from any information a client chooses to share with his or her attorney.
Why is confidentiality such an integral aspect of legal representation? The answer is trust—to effectively represent a client, an attorney needs the client’s complete trust. Think of it this way, we are all more willing to share information that may be embarrassing or difficult to talk about with someone that we know we can trust. This is why attorneys are held to a high standard of protecting a client’s confidential information.
Confidences and Secrets
With respect to client confidentiality, the definition of a secret is anything either the client has requested to be held in confidence or anything that, if told, would be detrimental to the client. Confidential information is any information related to the representation of the client. Furthermore confidential client information can only come from the client, whereas a client’s secrets can come from any source.