Attorney-client privilege provides protection of confidential communications between attorneys and clients. Oral, written, or electronic communications between the General Counsel and the University's administrators, faculty and staff, for the purpose of seeking legal advice concerning University issues, are protected by the attorney-client privilege. For privilege to exist the communication must be to, from, or with the General Counsel for the purpose of requesting or receiving legal advice.
Attorney-client privilege is compromised if a third party is made aware of and/or is privy to the communications between the General Counsel and client.
The only way to preserve attorney-client privilege if other parties must be involved, is if the client writes a memorandum to the General Counsel requesting legal advice and the client also sends a copy of the memorandum to the other parties. Both copies of the memorandum are privileged, the first as an attorney-client communication and the second because the client is sharing a privileged communication with a University official with a need to know about the legal issue. However, if the client writes a separate letter to the other parties concerning the legal issue, this letter is not privileged and would be subject to disclosure in a lawsuit.
Communications must be kept confidential for the privilege to apply. If the information of attorney-client communications is disclosed to persons outside the University, or even to persons within the University who are not directly involved in the matter, the privilege may be compromised. Your communications with the General Counsel should never be discussed with anyone, including family, friends, or colleagues at the University.
If the client recounts the General Counsel's advice to anyone who has no role in the case, the client’s earlier discussion with General Counsel is no longer privileged. As a result, if the client is called to testify in the case, he/she can be compelled to describe the conversation with General Counsel.
All written communications, including e-mail, from the University's administrators, faculty, and staff to the General Counsel concerning legal matters should be labeled “Privileged and Confidential” by the sender. While the label is not essential to bring the communication within the attorney-client privilege, it can help to protect the communication from disclosure in litigation.
In requesting or receiving legal advice concerning University business, be assured that the Office of the General Counsel will preserve the privileged nature of all communications. If you have any questions concerning the attorney-client privilege, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at (309) 438-8999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of General Counsel cannot provide legal advice to students or employees about personal legal issues or to persons with claims adverse to the University. Students requiring legal advice should contact the Student's Attorney.