When you hire a personal injury lawyer or another type of attorney in Nebraska, you receive what is referred to as attorney-client privilege. This is a rule of confidentiality between the attorney and his or her client. Under this rule, a lawyer may not divulge confidential communications made while rendering professional legal services to a client.
How Does Attorney-Client Privilege Work?
Nebraska Revised Statute 27-503 gives the state’s definition of lawyer-client privilege. This law states that a client has the privilege to refuse to disclose and prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications made for the purpose of a lawyer rendering professional legal services to the client. This rule applies to the following communications:
- Between the client or his or her representative and the lawyer or lawyer’s representative.
- Between the client’s lawyer and the lawyer’s representative.
- By the client or client’s lawyer to a lawyer representing someone else in a matter of common interest.
- Between representatives of the client or between the client and a representative.
- Between lawyers representing the client.
The attorney-client privilege can be claimed by the client, the client’s guardian or conservator, the personal representative of a deceased client, or the successor or representative of a corporation or organization. A lawyer can also claim this privilege, but only on behalf of the client at the time of the communication. As long as the communication was confidential and not intended to be disclosed to third parties, it falls under the lawyer-client privilege.
What Constitutes an Attorney-Client Relationship?
The attorney-client privilege holds that if a client gives sensitive, private or confidential information to his or her attorney, the attorney legally cannot divulge the secrets to anyone else, nor can anyone force the attorney to do so. For this rule to apply, however, an attorney-client relationship must exist.
State law defines a client as an individual, corporation, or other organization or entity who is provided professional legal services by a lawyer or who consults with a lawyer with the purpose of obtaining professional legal services from that lawyer. This means the attorney-client privilege will apply even during initial case consultations.
Exceptions to the Rule
It is important to learn when your communications with your lawyer might not be confidential. While attorney-client privilege covers almost all communications made between you and your lawyer – including over the phone, through voicemail, in person, in writing, and via text and email – there are a few exceptions to the rule. Nebraska state law lists five specific scenarios where the lawyer-client privilege will not exist:
- If a client knowingly seeks to hire a lawyer to enable the client (or someone else) to commit a crime or aid someone in committing a crime.
- If the communications are relevant to an issue between parties who are claiming through the same deceased client.
- If the communications are relevant to an alleged breach of duty by the lawyer to his or her client or by the client to his or her lawyer.
- If the communications are relevant to an issue concerning an attested document to which the lawyer was an attesting witness.
- If the communications are relevant to a matter of common interest between two or more clients if the clients made the communication to a lawyer that was consulted or retained in common.
The attorney-client privilege may also be waived by the client. If a client wishes to share confidential information with a third party, the client can waive the privilege since it is his or hers. It is also worthwhile to note that the presence of a third party during the communication, or communication that is not meant to be private, the privilege will not apply. If you’re ready to speak to an attorney about a potential case privately and confidentially, contact Knowles Law Firm.