Can an Atty be called to testify against client? Wouldn't that violate Atty/Client privilege or be a Conflict of Interest?

Asked 11 months ago - Chicago, IL

Atty doesnt want to meet with client in person to get details, told client to write them down and email them. He said because if client verbally tells Atty anything, he (atty) could be used as a witness. Said he would just put email in a file and save it. I have never heard of an Atty not bringing his client in after being retained to get the facts and go over the details before pretrial. Doesn't the paying client have a right to give the facts in person and tell the Atty what he hopes to accomplish by retaining him????
(This is a minor offense)

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Judith Anne Schening

    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . I am not sure your question provides all of the information that is needed to accurately answer this, but I will take a stab at it. If you are saying that a client with a criminal legal problem has hired an attorney to represent him/her, and the attorney has stated that he does not want to meet with the client in person prior to a pre-trial hearing, but instead wants the client to email the attorney with information regarding the case on the basis that the attorney could be called as witness to testify against the client and the attorney would be required to disclose the information because the client gave it to the attorney in person, this strikes me as very odd. I am not aware of any law which states that information provided to an attorney in person or over the phone is more susceptible to being discoverable than information contained in an email.

    If there is a legal basis to compel an attorney to testify as to information provided to him or her by the client, it would not matter whether the information was provided in person, over a phone, or in writing.

    On the other hand, there is some basis for the proposition that a client who provides information electronically to an attorney has no or little expectation of privacy and therefore it is vulnerable to being discoverable, especially if the email were inadvertently addressed to the wrong person.

    Without any additional facts--which could exist--based on this hypothetical question I cannot think of any reason why the attorney/client privilege would be weakened or pierced by a client providing privileged information to their retained attorney (provided there are no third parties present, the communication is not in furtherance of a crime, etc.).

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps.... more
  2. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . An attorney that by law or court order is compelled to testify against his own client must do so whether the details were given in an email or in person.

    I believe your situation sounds most odd, so confirm exactly what the instructions are with the lawyer.

  3. Jennifer L. Ellis


    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . I agree, this is an odd scenario. The means in which the information is exchanged does not impact privilege.

    For a free consultation related to medical malpractice, personal injury, workers' compensation, social security... more

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

23,278 answers this week

2,753 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

23,278 answers this week

2,753 attorneys answering