Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege protects the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and their clients for the purposes of requesting or receiving legal advice. This privilege encourages openness and honesty between Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OGC) attorneys and their U-M clients because, in most situations, attorneys can neither reveal nor be forced to reveal attorney/client written, oral, or electronic communications. This becomes especially important in the litigation context because privileged communications are not disclosed to opposing parties.

To advise a U-M client properly, an OGC attorney must have a complete knowledge of the facts. The attorney/client and attorney work-product privileges create a protection of privacy so that U-M personnel can candidly inform the OGC attorney of all the facts (including any “bad” or damaging facts) in a confidential and privileged setting.

Communications must be kept confidential for the attorney-client privilege to apply. If the substance of OGC attorney-U-M client communications is disclosed to persons outside U-M—or even to persons within U-M who are not directly involved in the matter—the privilege may be extinguished. Therefore, communications with OGC attorneys should never be discussed with anyone outside U-M, including family members or friends; within U-M, they should be discussed only with persons who have responsibility for the particular matter.

To help protect communications from compelled disclosure in litigation, OGC recommends that all written communications (including E-mail) from U-M faculty and staff to OGC attorneys concerning legal matters be marked “Privileged and Confidential” by the sender.

If you have any questions concerning the attorney-client privilege, please call the OGC at
(734) 764-0304.