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Attorney/client privilege and spouses

I keep having issues with my wife when either a friend or fa orange904/21/18
Don’t represent close personal friends or family members; onehell04/21/18
I may not have been clear about this- I don't actually take orange904/21/18
Sometimes the attorney/client relationship is of very short onehell04/25/18
Double Post- please delete orange904/21/18
I'd suggest you talk all about it and try to make it interes jeffm04/21/18
That would protect my wife from testifying, but would not ex orange904/21/18
Getting married was your first mistake. You can not indefini richardrose04/23/18
That advice ignores the fact that the privilege is held by t onehell04/25/18
I can't believe you haven't Michael Corleone'd your wife yet lolwutjobs04/21/18
you should talk to your wife about the concept of attorney-c dingbat04/21/18
i also talk to my husband generally about cases but do not i legalbeagle04/24/18
Tell your wife that there are two oaths you've taken, that 2tierreality04/24/18
Explain to wife that you're acting like an attorney when a f isthisit04/24/18
I agree with the poster above, this isn’t really about pri jorgedeclaro04/25/18
orange9 (Apr 21, 2018 - 10:34 am)

I keep having issues with my wife when either a friend or family member calls me with a legal question and my wife will ask me what the person wanted and I tell her I can't say, sometimes I will even say "it's none of your business" because I have gotten really fed up with this, and she is of the viewpoint that we have "no secrets" and will then say I am too secretive and then stop talking me for the day.

A few years ago my parents were doing their wills, and while I was not actually writing the wills having any part of the actual execution, my dad called me a number of times since he owns a commercial property and wanted to make sure his grandchildren were protected from his children's spouses, and he had concerns since one of my sisters has a spending problem. He would usually call me at night when he knew I was not in my office, and would ask if we could speak privately. I considered that due to the nature of these conversations and the sensitive topic, that he would expect the privilege. My wife was upset when I would leave the room. She interprets it as a problem between my dad and my sister which he prefers to address with me instead of with her, I look at it as a legal question, plus I consider the topic of wills to be a very private matter.

Then this morning, my dad called me about a piece of mail he got about his old property. I did not know the answer, and told him to call his lawyer, and of course my wife is right there asking what he wanted, and I am standing there saying he had a legal question, and she asks what it was.

Anyone else dealing with this?

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onehell (Apr 21, 2018 - 11:00 am)

Don’t represent close personal friends or family members; this is but one of many awkwardnesses it can create.

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orange9 (Apr 21, 2018 - 11:26 am)

I may not have been clear about this- I don't actually take them as clients. But I get calls with random questions all the time, and my dad calls me with random questions here and there about his property and I typically tell him to call his lawyer, but I treat these questions like any potential client who I turn down where privilege still applies. My barometer for whether privilege applies is whether that person would be talking to me about this if I were not a lawyer, if not, is anyone else present, if not, would they want me to be talking about this, if not- I am not opening my mouth.

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onehell (Apr 25, 2018 - 12:39 pm)

Sometimes the attorney/client relationship is of very short duration, involves only the giving of advice, and maybe involves no fee. Doesn't mean they're not a client. If you gave them legal advice, they're a client.

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orange9 (Apr 21, 2018 - 11:26 am)

Double Post- please delete

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jeffm (Apr 21, 2018 - 1:25 pm)

I'd suggest you talk all about it and try to make it interesting to her. It will help your relationship. There is a spousal privilege.

Edit: http://texasevidence.com/article-v-privileges/rule-504/

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orange9 (Apr 21, 2018 - 1:53 pm)

That would protect my wife from testifying, but would not excuse my conduct if I were to divulge information to her and someone else could independently testify about it, for instance, if she told someone else.

It is really a matter of whether our spouses can respect and appreciate that there are certain conversations which we cannot tell them about. Mine tends to get offended that certain conversations I have with people are confidential.

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richardrose (Apr 23, 2018 - 10:11 am)

Getting married was your first mistake. You can not indefinitely depend on a woman to respect your wishes - no matter how rational and reasonable they are. Women are creatures of instinct - and her instinct will always be that you are keeping secrets. This will undoubtedly cause a rift in your relationship. Best of luck.

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onehell (Apr 25, 2018 - 4:56 pm)

That advice ignores the fact that the privilege is held by the client, not the lawyer. He's not free to disclose it to a spouse just because another privilege could apply. And besides, I think that privilege only applies where one spouse is testifying against the other, and I think there's a split in jurisdictions about whether that privilege can be waived by the testifying spouse over the other spouse's objection.

In short, it probably wouldn't be privileged at all and even if it was, he'd be transferring ownership of the privilege from his client to some spouse and/or himself.

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lolwutjobs (Apr 21, 2018 - 3:06 pm)

I can't believe you haven't Michael Corleone'd your wife yet

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dingbat (Apr 21, 2018 - 10:49 pm)

you should talk to your wife about the concept of attorney-client privilege, and how you could get disbarred over it.

My spouse understands - I can't talk about specifics or about specific clients.
On the other hand, I do occasionally talk about some matters in general terms - but only if the client(s) cannot be identified.

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legalbeagle (Apr 24, 2018 - 2:54 pm)

i also talk to my husband generally about cases but do not identify specific clients.

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2tierreality (Apr 24, 2018 - 11:12 pm)

Tell your wife that there are two oaths you've taken, that you have no intention of breaking:

1) your attorney oath
2) your wedding vows

And that they are not mutually exclusive.

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isthisit (Apr 24, 2018 - 11:21 pm)

Explain to wife that you're acting like an attorney when a family member calls for your advice so you're bound to protect their confidences.

If she really wants to know than she can ask them directly.

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jorgedeclaro (Apr 25, 2018 - 10:01 pm)

I agree with the poster above, this isn’t really about privilege, privilege belongs to the client. This is about your duty of confidentiality.

Telling your spouse about your work, absolutely 100% breaches your duty of confidentiality. However, I would venture that 99.9% attorney’s who are married breach this duty in this fashion in varying degrees. It is very hard to maintain a relationship when you can’t talk about what you do 33-50% of the day.

I commend you for your ethical responsibilities.

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