The Attorney-Client Privilege: Don’t Let Your Shame Get in the Way of Your Rights

The Attorney-Client Privilege: Don’t Let Your Shame Get in the Way of Your Rights

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, a lawyer has an ethical obligation to maintain the confidential relationship between attorney and client. Even though you know that your lawyer won’t disclose personal information, the shame that you feel can make you reluctant to disclose critical information to counsel. Don’t make that mistake—your attorney has taken an oath to represent zealously within the bounds of the law. The more you disclose, the better your lawyer can protect your rights. Without all the information about what you have done, your attorney will be hamstrung, and may even make assertions that prove not to be true.

As a general rule, if a client makes a statement in confidence to counsel, that information may not be disclosed to a third party without the client’s permission, with very limited exceptions. Your lawyer may disclose information if he or she reasonably believes that not doing so would jeopardize the safety or physical integrity of another person, or if he or she reasonably believes you are about to commit a crime. Your attorney may also disclose evidence of past conduct if it is likely to cause harm to someone in the future.

It’s also important to understand the source and power of the emotion of shame. It has been said that shame is the work of memory against forgetting. If you simply forgot the wrongful acts you committed, there would be little to stop you from doing them again. Shame helps keep that from happening, so even though it’s a painful emotion, it has a positive impact. Even so, its power comes entirely from the meaning that you attach to it. It’s a story that you create with an imagined result, and as long as you never share the story, you get to control the consequence. When you disclose a shameful act to another person, and life goes on, you begin to understand that your shame only has the power that you give it. Confiding your past shameful act to your attorney can often be the safest place to start, as your attorney won’t end the relationship because of what you have done.

Contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr.

At the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at (610) 565-0240 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover, as well as debit cards.

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