The Dynamic Attorney-Client Privilege

47 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2008 Last revised: 9 Apr 2009

See all articles by Gregory C. Sisk

Gregory C. Sisk

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Pamela J. Abbate


Date Written: August 29, 2008


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.

Keywords: Professional responsibility, Legal ethics, attorney-client privilege, privilege, legal profession

Suggested Citation

Sisk, Gregory C. and Abbate, Pamela J., The Dynamic Attorney-Client Privilege (August 29, 2008). 23 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics (forthcoming 2010); U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-24. Available at SSRN: or

Gregory C. Sisk (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
651-962-4892 (Phone)

Pamela J. Abbate


No Address Available

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