The attorney-client privilege is a rule of evidence that prohibits the lawyer from disclosing information relayed by clients. The privilege belongs to the client, and the client can choose to waive it. However, the attorney-client privilege can mean so much more, even to those who are not clients of the lawyer. Some may argue that there is no need for the attorney-client privilege in our open society that shares everything and an increased willingness to bargain away the privilege during negotiations. Moreover, there are many different players in the health and wellness compliance field who do not practice law or are not trained as lawyers.
Based on my experience, I disagree that the attorney-client privilege is an antiquated concept. In my experience, the attorney-client privilege is more than just a discovery tool for litigation. It is symbolic of the legal profession in its purest form. The attorney-client privilege reaches beyond client confidences and instills a sense of trust even among those who are not our clients. As an example, I recently had lunch with a colleague who said he shared information that he would not share with a nonlawyer. Even though that information is not subject to any kind of privilege, the fact that it exists for me in other contexts provided a veil of trust in our relationship.
So, regardless of whether individuals or organizations are more willing to bargain away their privileged communications, the attorney-client privilege still serves a valuable purpose. It provides clients and others within our communication circles with an air of confidence and trust in what we as lawyers say and do. Earning and keeping that trust and confidence with others is priceless.