The Dynamic Attorney-Client Privilege
Gregory C. Sisk
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Pamela J. Abbate
University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)
August 29, 2008
23 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics (forthcoming 2010)
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-24
The proliferation of legal rules and the growth of government regulation have left very few aspects of human activity and relationships untouched by law. For these reasons, the categories of matters that may come within the scope of legal representation today are very broad indeed. Even persons not contemplating litigation, considering a transaction, or seeking preparation of a legal document may seek the advice of a lawyer about the legal implications of diverse forms of human conduct and associations. To provide effective representation, the lawyer in contemporary American society may need to bring to bear expertise, knowledge, skills, and services beyond what traditionally was regarded as legal in nature. Under modern circumstances, when a matter having a legal dimension is brought to a lawyer, the animating purpose of the attorney-client privilege is best realized by allowing the lawyer and client to fully explore both legal and non-legal aspects in an integrated manner. And if we wish to encourage lawyers and clients to engage in moral deliberation, the confidential shield of the privilege must cover introduction of such non-legal principles into the discussion. Accordingly, the contours of the attorney-client privilege should adjust proportionally with the dynamic changes in the practice of law and lawyer counseling.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: Professional responsibility, Legal ethics, attorney-client privilege, privilege, legal profession
Date posted: September 1, 2008 ; Last revised: April 9, 2009
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