What can I safely tell a lawyer?

Do you have a legal situation, but don’t know what to share about it? Do you need to protect a trade secret or piece of intellectual property, but don’t know what you can safely talk about with an attorney?

Everyone has heard about the attorney-client privilege, but lots of people are unsure about how it works or when it kicks in.

The rule is simple: The minute you approach an attorney about the subject of a possible representation, the attorney is required to protect your confidences from disclosure. This is true even if you decide not to hire the lawyer. The attorney is required to keep your confidences permanently, even after termination of services (if any are rendered). An attorney who violates the attorney-client privilege can be subjected to serious discipline, including possible suspension from practice or even disbarment.

There are only a few exceptions to this rule. Depending on the jurisdiction, an attorney should/must disclose if a client or potential client indicates that he is likely to cause serious harm (usually physical in nature) to others, if a court orders him to disclose it (very rare), or in the event of litigation between the attorney and client, where the attorney is obligated to do so (also very rare).

In short, you should feel free to share anything you feel is important with your lawyer, or even with an a lawyer that you are approaching about possible representation.

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