The Attorney-Client Privilege and the “Common Interest” Doctrine

Most individuals assume that all of their communications with their attorneys are privileged.  But, this is not always the case.

First, the privilege applies only to communications made in the context of an attorney-client relationship for the primary purpose of securing either a legal opinion or legal services. Only such communications are protected. 

Second, since the purpose of the privilege is to encourage open communication between a client and attorney, the privilege also protects communications if they would tend to disclose the client's confidential communications. Thus, if there was an expectation of confidentiality the attorney-client privilege would apply.

Third, for anyone considering seeking counsel from an attorney, it is important to know that not all communications made between a client and his or her attorney are protected under the attorney-client privilege.