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Are all conversations with an attorney subject to attorney-client privilege?

Hawthorne, NJ |

Are all conversations with an attorney subject to attorney-client privilege? E.g. initial consultations, even if I end up not retaining said attorney?

Attorney Answers 2


An attorney-client relationship exists whenever you communicate regarding a confidential legal matter with an attorney, even if you never retain an attorney. The attorney-client privilege applies to confidential communications whether they are held in the attorney's office, in your home, at the scene of an accident or at dinner party . . . it applies everywhere. If the attorney-client privilege did not protect parties unless they retained the attorney, there would be no reasonable way for a person to interview attorneys to find one he or she prefers, and no reasonable way for an attorney to interview potential clients.

The communication has to be confidential to be privileged regardless of whether the attorney is retained or not. If the person discusses anything with anyone other than the attorney, then the communication is no longer privileged.

There are some nuances to this. Anyone who is necessary to the communication with the attorney, such as a translator or the attorney's staff, does not destroy the privilege. And there are additional privileges, so a person can talk with his or her legal spouse about the same issues and those communications remain privileged due to the marital privilege. This applies only to lawfully-married couples. Similarly, a person can discuss the same issues with a clergy person without worrying, because those communications are also privileged. Communications with medical personnel are privileged to the extent the medical issues are not involved in the litigation; this is a less clear area and you should discuss this issue with an attorney to find out the limits of the privilege before you talk.

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Excellent answer, thank you very much!


Attorney Client privilege exists only if there is an attorney client relationship. Not all conversatiron are subject to the privilege ie. if a 3rd party is in the room with you when speaking with the attorney, you have waived it.

Good luck.

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