Our communications are protected in a number of ways. 

Attorney-client privilege

The one you are probably familiar with: the attorney-client privilege, which is found under Section 5916 of the Pennsylvania Judicial Code. 

The privilege applies in court. It basically says that a lawyer is not allowed to testify about a confidential communication made to him by his client--unless the client says so. 

Attorney-client confidentiality

Our communications are also protected by Rule 1.6 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. 

Rule 1.6 applies everywhere. It basically says that a lawyer is also not allowed to reveal information related to the representation of a client--unless the client says so. 

Work-product doctrine

Our communications are protected by other rules, such as the work-product doctrine under Rule 573(G) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. 

The doctrine applies to litigation. It basically says that an attorney does not have to share information about his opinions, theories, or conclusions the other side (e.g., the government).

The protections of the work-product doctrine are indirect. The attorney-client privilege and Rule 1.6 are the biggies when it comes to our communications.

Exceptions

Are there any exceptions to these rules? You bet, but they are too complicated for this article. 

If you want to learn more, please ask your lawyer about it. Or check out the resources below. There are links to more information for some of them.

Resources

  • 42 Pa.C.S.A. 5916 ("Confidential communications to attorney")
  • Pa.R.P.C. 1.6 ("Confidentiality of information").
  • Pa.R.Crim.P. 573(G) ("Work product").
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