Clients may feel scared about telling their attorneys about things that they may not be proud of. Or a client may feel that a small bit of information is unimportant to the attorney. However, successful representation of clients, even in car accident cases, may depend on the client’s attorney knowing that information. Like good attorneys, the experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates know how to encourage clients to disclose information, regardless of how embarrassing. We let our clients know that, except in exceptional circumstances, the law protects communications between clients and attorneys.
The Laws And Rules Protecting Client Confidentiality
The ethical rules governing attorneys obliges attorneys to maintain the confidentiality of communications with clients, and these rules provide for a very few exceptions. Rule 1.6 of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct states
Rule 1.6. Confidentiality of Information.
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraphs (b) and (d).
(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(1) To prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(2) To prevent the client from committing a criminal or fraudulent act in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services, but the lawyer shall, where practicable, first make reasonable effort to persuade the client to take suitable action;
(3) To prevent, mitigate, or rectify the consequences of a client’s criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer’s services have been or are being used, but the lawyer shall, where practicable, first make reasonable effort to persuade the client to take corrective action;
(4) To secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(5) To establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client; or
(6) To comply with other law or a court order.
(7) To detect and resolve conflicts of interest arising from the lawyer’s change of employment or from changes in the composition or ownership of a firm, but only if the revealed information would not compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client.
(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
(d) A lawyer shall reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.
A lawyer’s duty to keep their client’s information confidential continues even after a client’s case is done. Rule 1.9 of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct states
Rule 1.9. Duties to Former Clients.
. . .
(c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
- Use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or
- Reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.
Besides the ethical rules above, the legal doctrine of “attorney client privilege” serves to protect the confidentiality of client communications from compelled disclosure. This privilege is one of the oldest legal doctrines. In Nevada, this privilege is codified in a statute. Section 49.035 et seq. of the Nevada Revised Statutes sets forth when the privilege applies and the exceptions. The general rule is stated in NRS § 49.095 as follows:
NRS § 49.095. General rule of privilege. A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, confidential communications:
- Between the client or the client’s representative and the client’s lawyer or the representative of the client’s lawyer.
- Between the client’s lawyer and the lawyer’s representative.
- Made for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services to the client, by the client or the client’s lawyer to a lawyer representing another in a matter of common interest.
Basically, information a client discloses to his attorney relating to his case is considered confidential, and the attorney cannot disclose it without the client’s consent. Our legal system recognizes that for attorneys to effectively represent their clients, attorneys must have all the relevant information. Further, clients must be encouraged to make “full and frank” disclosures. Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383, 389 (1981).
If you need a car accident attorney in Las Vegas you can trust, call the award-winning and experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates.