If I called a law firm for a "free" consultation, will I be connected to the lawyer themselves or to an assistant/paralegal to talk about my case? Also, if I explained my case to them and decide not to hire them to be my legal representative, what will they do with my information? Will they discard it or keep it on file? Also, will they share the information with outside parties or do they have the regulation to keep whatever I share with them private? (For example, if someone admitted to them that they committed a crime)
Generally the information you share is privileged so it cannot be shared. There are exceptions to the privilege. Who you will n speak to at a firm can only be answered by the firm. One example where privileged could be waived is if you are simply using services of an attorney to commit a crime.
Every lawyer has their own policies and procedures on how they deal with this information. Consultations with lawyers are privileged depending on the setting and whether other people are present, etc.
I am a former Brooklyn Criminal Court Deputy Bureau Chief with over 18 years experience specializing in handling criminal cases. All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. Also, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.
Every firm does things differently but the attorney client privilege applies.
I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been handling criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 18 years. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails, is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
We absolutely must maintain your confidences because no one would ever be able to seek out professional help. That is a public policy that no judge will exploit and no professional will bastardize.
However, something in your question gave me a concern. In the vast majority of civil and criminal actions, client concern over confidentiality seems to trump the realities in a case. For example, I had a client come to me after cops planted a pistol on him. The client was overridden with concerns that I will keep his factual recitations in perfect confidence. Stated another way, if his recitation that cops planted a gun were to be kept secret, cops would be free to go around and plant more guns. I took the case and visited the DA's office to see the toy pistol with the huge, imprinted serial number on the grip (which looked as if it was manufactured by a toy maker in Hong Kong). The DA shortly thereafter withdrew the case 'in the interests of justice'.
I see a similar situation in divorce court. I had one litigant send me documents which the litigant was going to 'take to the news', but in the same breath the litigant told me to keep the papers in 'the strictest confidence'. It was clear from the papers that the litigant was being taken for a ride but the instruction for me to keep quiet about it led me to decline the case.
Remember that your priority must be to get to the bottom of what is happening to you at the hands of the system. Your lawyer should feel free to talk to you rationally about exactly the recipe for success in your case. You don't get to that point if your initial inquiry is for the lawyer to stay quiet about what could be serious arbitrage taking place against you. Lawyers generally have a sense of humor but feel highly uncomfortable at laughing at a prospective client.
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