Lee & Lee PS Law Talk

Q: I have heard that whatever I tell my lawyer is confidential and that it cannot be shared with anyone else.  Is this true? A: Generally, yes.  Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot reveal information relating to the representation of a client, UNLESS the client gives informed consent.  Informed consent means consent after the client has been fully advised of the information to be disclosed, the party to whom it will be disclosed, the reason for the disclosure and the consequences of the disclosure.  The reason for this rule is to encourage clients to be truthful to their lawyer and to tell him/her everything.  A lawyer cannot be effective if he/she does not have all of the information.  Some clients are embarrassed about certain facts, or feel uncomfortable admitting they made a mistake.  But, clients should always be honest with their lawyers. Otherwise, they may severely impact the lawyer’s ability to provide effective representation.

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk (Nelson Lee and Bethany Mito)

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk
Q: I have heard that whatever I tell my lawyer is confidential and that it cannot be shared with anyone else.  Is this true?

A: Generally, yes.  Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot reveal information relating to the representation of a client, UNLESS the client gives informed consent.  Informed consent means consent after the client has been fully advised of the information to be disclosed, the party to whom it will be disclosed, the reason for the disclosure and the consequences of the disclosure.  The reason for this rule is to encourage clients to be truthful to their lawyer and to tell him/her everything.  A lawyer cannot be effective if he/she does not have all of the information.  Some clients are embarrassed about certain facts, or feel uncomfortable admitting they made a mistake.  But, clients should always be honest with their lawyers. Otherwise, they may severely impact the lawyer’s ability to provide effective representation.


Q: Are there exceptions to the client confidentiality rule?

A: Yes.  Almost every rule has some exceptions.  A lawyer may reveal client confidences if he/she reasonably believes it will prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.  A lawyer may also reveal information relating to the representation of a client to prevent the client from committing a crime.  A lawyer may also reveal information to establish his own defense in a dispute between him/her and the client.  For example, in a dispute over legal fees, a lawyer may have to reveal some client information to explain why he charged certain fees.  Another example would be where the lawyer has to defend against a criminal charge claiming he helped a client commit a crime or fraud.  A lawyer may also be ordered by the court to reveal client information in some situations.  However, while exceptions do exist, it is relatively rare for a lawyer to feel compelled to disclose client confidences.  Therefore, clients should feel comfortable sharing information with their lawyers.  Failing to be forthcoming could severely impact your legal representation.

Q: Which type of fee is better for the client?

A: That depends on many factors including the type of case, the client’s ability to pay, the fees, the difficulty of the case, and the expected time for the case to resolve.  Whichever fee type you choose, be sure the agreement is in writing.  Read the terms carefully. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation.  Many clients have reported that they didn’t understand their fee agreements and later felt that their lawyers took advantage of them.  Don’t let this happen to you

Q: Can I challenge the fees and expenses that I am billed or charged by my lawyer?

A: Yes!  You should demand a detailed and itemized bill explaining all of the fees, costs and expenses.  If you think you are being overcharged, challenge the bill.  A lawyer must charge reasonable fees and expenses.  If you notice your lawyer charging you $5-10 per page for photocopying, argue it.  If you are being billed at an hourly rate and you believe that you are being charged for time that was not spent on your case, demand an explanation.  Read your bill carefully and do not be afraid to demand an explanation or reduction where one is appropriate.  Remember, you are the boss!  Too often, I have seen people overcharged by their lawyers.

Next topic: “What are my rights in the lawyer-client relationship? (3)”
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Lee & Lee PS Law Talk—Disclaimer—
This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS and this publisher for educational purposes only.  The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice.  Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers or their publisher.  Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.

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