Yes. Texas Rule of Evidence 503(b)(1)(A) expressly makes privileged communications between a client or a representative of the client and the client's lawyer or a representative of the lawyer. Representatives of the lawyer include his or her paralegals, as well as administrative assistants, receptionists, bookkeepers and all other employees.
Yes. All employees working for and under the supervision of a lawyer in a law firm are covered by the attorney-client privilege and required to keep all communications confidential.
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If you are asking if your case information, whether discussed with the attorney's staff or the attorney, can be discussed outside the firm, then it cannot be divulged. If you are asking whether the attorney can discuss with staff, then absent some very unusual agreement otherwise, such discussions and access to documents are routine.
We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.
I agree with both answers above. A lawyer should give legal assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client. Rule 5.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct provides that:
With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
(a) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and
(b) a lawyer shall be subject to discipline for the conduct of such a person that would be a violation of these rules if engaged in by a lawyer if:
(1) the lawyer orders, encourages, or permits the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer:
(i) is a partner in the law firm in which the person is employed, retained by, or associated with; or is the general counsel of a government agency's legal department in which the person is employed, retained by or associated with; or has direct supervisory authority over such person; and
(ii) with knowledge of such misconduct by the nonlawyer knowingly fails to take reasonable remedial action to avoid or mitigate the consequences of that person's misconduct.
Legal disclaimer: John Bonica is licensed to practice law only in Texas. His response is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is only intended to provide general information. The question may not include significant and important facts that would change the response. You should confer with a local attorney for competent legal advice.