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Is information discussed in a free consultation with a potential attorney, protected by the attorney / client privilege?

Arlington, TX |
Filed under: Professional ethics

when a potential client goes to a civil attorney, for a free consultation, to potentially hire the attorney to file a lawsuit on the client's behalf, is the information shared in the consultation covered by the client / attorney privilege, just the same as if the attorney has already been hired by the client ? can the attorney be deposed by the defendants attorney in civil court and made to testify about what information was discussed in the free consultation ? after the consultation the attorney warned me to be careful who I talk to about my case. she said because the opposition can depose anyone that I talk to about my case. I was already acquitted of the criminal charges and told her so. I am worried she may have been threatening to sell me out to the defendants if I do not hire her.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. As a general rule communications are protected between a potential client and a lawyer who the potential client is seeking to hire.

    There are a number of publications about the attorney-client privilege in Texas. It does appear that Texas follows the standard rule, as noted here in a publication by the Texas Bar Association.

    http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Our_Legal_System1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=23457

    However, to be absolutely sure of the rule in Texas your best course of action is talk to the attorney and confirm with him or her that they agree the communications are privileged. If you are still not satisfied, then it is best to talk with a lawyer licensed in Texas, or the bar association.

    Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and a resolution depends on a thorough review of applicable facts and law. No attorney can guarantee a particular outcome or result.


  2. I think your suspicions are a little over the top but your question is a great one. This has been coming up in our jurisprudence like dandelions. For years, we all just assumed that pre-formation conversations were covered by the privilege. Then some aggressive lawyering called that belief into question. Slowly, state's a getting a distinct statement that intake matters are privileged into their disciplinary rules. (Our State did just a few years ago.). What is pretty clear is that, if the attorney assures you that you are within the privilege and it doesn't fall within one of the exceptions (intent to commit a specific future crime.) it will be treated as privileged.

    I doubt if you were being shaken down by the attorney, that is probably her exit statement to all clients who have criminal a civil parallel matters.

    I would just heed the advice of learned TX counsel, already given.


  3. She was just warning you to be careful who you talk to, aside from your lawyer. Generally speaking, yes, when you meet with a lawyer specifically to determine whether to hire her, the conversation is protected.

    I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

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