Last month, a Florida appellate court ruled it would not extend the “malpractice exception” to the attorney-client privilege, but what does it mean for attorneys and clients who are at odds in lawsuits?
The appellate court explained that the exception applied only to communications between a client and the lawyer who is being sued for malpractice. But if the case involves the client and another lawyer, the malpractice exception doesn’t apply.
What’s a malpractice exception to the attorney-client privilege?
Today, our legal malpractice attorneys at Law Offices of Bradley Hartman are going to explain what the attorney-client privilege means, and why the “malpractice exception” doesn’t apply in some lawsuits between clients and their attorneys.
The number of lawsuits between lawyers and their former clients have been on the rise lately, as standards of ethics among attorneys have dropped significantly in recent years.
A client may choose to file a legal malpractice lawsuit against their former attorney if he/she fails to respond to motions in a timely manner, doesn’t appear at court hearings, fails to gather sufficient evidence during an investigation, collects fees and doesn’t earn them, and for many other types of legal malpractice.
Given that the client and the attorney have worked together, and the attorney has likely gathered confidential information about the client, the lawyer may choose to use that sensitive and likely incriminating information against the client citing self-defense.
Generally, disclosing confidential information would be a violation of the attorney-client privilege and attorneys’ ethical duties, and that’s where the “malpractice exception” comes into play.
Disclosing the client’s confidential information
In most legal actions between attorneys and their former clients, the attorney may be required to reveal client confidences in order to defend himself or herself from the allegations made by the client.
The malpractice exception to the attorney-client privilege has been subject of many debates for ages, our best legal malpractice attorneys in Cooper City say.
The thing is that when attorneys look for ways to bypass the attorney-client privilege, the client who is suing the attorney risks being incriminated or losing his/her current litigation (in which the attorney, who is now the defendant in a separate lawsuit, represented the client and obtained confidential information) if that information is revealed.
Disclosing attorney-client communications can have grave consequences for the client whether the attorney is citing self-defense or any other reason to justify his/her choice to disclose the client’s confidential information.
Prevent attorneys from disclosing confidential information
Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, the attorney may get away with disclosing your confidential information, our Cooper City legal malpractice attorneys warn.
Interestingly, the attorney-client privilege itself doesn’t require an attorney to withhold confidential information provided by the client. However, the rules of professional responsibility require avoiding revealing incriminating information about their client without his/her consent, except in certain circumstances.
Both rules of evidence and the rules of professional responsibility recognize the self-defense exception to the attorney-client privilege, which, in turn, allows attorneys to disclose their clients’ confidential information in certain cases.
Do you believe that your lawyer is engaging in legal malpractice? Don’t hesitate to consult our experienced legal malpractice attorneys at Law Offices of Bradley Hartman to find out your best legal options.
Learn how to prevent your former attorney from disclosing your confidential information by scheduling a free initial consultation with our lawyers. Call our Cooper City offices at Call at 954-438-1000 or fill out this contact form today.