What is the difference between confidentiality verses privacy in an attorney-client relationship? Of course, both of these concepts are extremely important to all clients, but in different ways.
CONFIDENTIALITY – DEFINED
Confidentiality means all discussions/communications between the attorney and client remain “safe” (confidential).
PRIVACY – DEFINED
Privacy means that through the pendency of your case, we are able to communicate in a way in which the other party is unable to gain access to your communications.
DUTIES OF THE ATTORNEY
To protect the attorney-client confidentiality, the attorney is prohibited from violating the client’s confidentiality by sharing information with others. It requires the attorney keep the information their clients share with them private, and the attorney cannot be forced to testify against their clients.
DUTIES OF THE CLIENT
In order to ensure that the attorney-client confidentiality is protected, the client’s role is to be proactive in safeguarding these confidential communications between themselves and their attorney.
SAFEGUARDS TO PROTECTING ATTORNEY-CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY EMAIL
You must establish a new email account, with a strong password. Be sure to select a password that you have never used before, to prevent your spouse from gaining access to your email account and reading your communication between your attorney.
The same privacy issue applies to your cell phone. You want to establish a new cell phone service separate from your spouse, using a two-factor authentication. This will prevent your spouse from invading your privacy and potentially compromising confidential attorney-client communication.
Do not bring family and friends to meeting with your attorney. Sharing confidential information in meetings with your attorney in the presence of a third party will destroy attorney-client confidentiality. Your disclosure of sensitive information in front of a third party indicates you do not want to keep the information private. Therefore, attorney-client confidentiality would not apply to any conversation you have with your attorney in front of a third party.
DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN
Both privacy and confidentiality are significant issues in any family law case, and must be addressed. As a client, you want to do everything you can do to protect your confidential communications with your attorney. The steps outlined above may seem inconvenient. However, the short-term inconvenience will bring you peace of mind that your spouse is not gaining important strategic information about your case by reading all of your emails and texts to and from your attorney.
It’s simple. If you are involved in a family law case, take these simple steps to protect your privacy, and therefore keeping your attorney-client communications confidential.
LAURIE SCHMITT – MICHIGAN FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY
Laurie Schmitt is the founder of Schmitt Law, PLLC. Our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and paternity disputes. To get started today, book a consultation online or by calling Schmitt Law, PLLC at (616) 608-4634. Whenever you are ready, we are here for you.