Attorney Client-Privilege Starts with the First Contact
Every time I have a call with a new client, I ask these things:
Is this your cell phone or a landline?
Does anyone else have access to your voicemail?
Do you have a personal email that’s not through your school or work?
Does anyone else have access to your personal email?
Is anyone else with you while you’re on the phone with me?
Why Do I Ask These Things?
Because I want to protect our attorney-client privilege. When we're talking about your kids, your concerns, or your history, you don't want others listening. I'm going to ask you tough questions sometimes and you don't want to answer in front of other people. I need to know some pretty embarrassing or personal things about you, your spouse, your kids, or your family in order to give you the best advice and provide the best representation possible.
Not only am I going to ask tough things, I need my clients to be honest with me, They’re not going to be honest if they know what the tell me will get them in trouble. I’m obligated to keep your information and our discussions secret. I need you tell me when they've made a mistake in the past or present or have a problem they’re dealing with so I can help them. Have a pending DUI charge and trying to get custody of your kids? I need to know. In trouble for the second time for getting in an altercation? I need to know. The best time for me to find out is before court and before talking to the opposing party. We can get a strategy in place before it’s an issue, if it even becomes one.
Why Can’t You Use Your Work or School Email?
Your work or school email address is monitored. Your HR or IT department can see your email any time they want to if they need to do so. So don’t email me about your screaming match turned fisticuffs with your spouse or how you received ten tickets for animal abuse and neglect over the weekend. You never know when IT or HR could pull those emails.
Communication is Between You and Me, No One Else
You may feel comfortable sharing everything with your parents or girlfriend/boyfriend. But do you want them forced to testify about what you told your attorney while thinking you could talk to them in confidence? When we meet at my office for the first time or during the middle of case, you’re the only one who will be in my office with me. I may talk to witnesses or spouses separately with or without you there. But I represent only you and my advice is tailored for your situation and needs. If you expect your spouse, partner, or parents to talk with me instead of you about what to do in your case, then you’re not participating in your own case and I cannot help you. I’m helping your spouse or parent at that point.