The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest and most respected privileges. It was designed to prevent a lawyer from being compelled to testify against his/her client.
The purpose underlying this privilege is to ensure that clients receive accurate and competent legal advice by encouraging full disclosure to their lawyer without fear that the information will be revealed to others. The privilege covers written and oral communications and protects both individual and institutional clients. The privilege extends from the attorneys hired to represent the University to include legal office staff that facilitates communications to and from the attorneys.
The attorney-client privilege does not apply to every communication with an attorney. For the privilege to exist, the communication must be to, from, or with an attorney, and intended to be confidential. In addition, the communication must be for the purpose of requesting or receiving legal advice. For example, an email or memorandum from one administrator to another concerning a legal matter typically is not privileged because such email is not sent to or from an attorney for the purpose of obtaining legal advice.
Florida Sunshine Law Limitations on Attorney-Client Privilege
Communications must be kept confidential for the privilege to apply. If the substance 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 extinguished. Your communications with attorneys in the General Counsel's Office or outside counsel representing FGCU should never be discussed with anyone outside FGCU, including family members or friends; within the University such communications should be discussed only with persons who have responsibility for the particular matter.
With respect to email communications, clients should take care before forwarding advice to another party because such action may waive the privilege. Generally, conveying legal advice to persons who are directly involved with a decision on behalf of the University will not void the privilege. Disclosure of significant legal advice to persons without such a need to know should be made only after consultation with General Counsel and other appropriate University administrators.
Since the General Counsel's Office is dedicated to the University as a whole, communications by individual employees to the General Counsel may be disclosed to other administrators or to outside counsel retained to represent or advise the University on a "need to know" basis.
If you have questions about the attorney-client privilege in your work with FGCU, please call the General Counsel.
In requesting or receiving legal advice concerning University business, be assured that the General Counsel and staff will preserve the privileged nature of all communications.
Other specific situations that are not covered by the Attorney-Client Privilege are:
The Fact of a ConsultationToggle More Info
Lawyer in the RoomToggle More Info
Underlying Facts Shared with an AttorneyToggle More Info
Documents Given to an AttorneyToggle More Info
Correspondence with Copies to an AttorneyToggle More Info
Communication in the Presence of a Third PartyToggle More Info