Confidentiality and Privilege of information is the hallmark fiduciary duty of the advocate-client relationship. As such, it is axiomatic that the existence and survival of the advocate-client relationship hangs on the string of maintenance of the legal professional privilege as well as secrecy and prerogative between the two parties.
In essence, confidentiality is defined as secrecy or state of having the dissemination of certain information restricted. The Black’s Law Dictionary describes it as the relation between a lawyer and a client or guardian and ward, or between spouses, with regard to the trust that is placed in the one by the other. The principle of confidentiality is founded on the idea that the advocate must have knowledge of all facts so as to properly serve their clients. Further to that, that a client might not fully disclose information without assurance that incriminating and humiliating facts will not be revealed to third parties. As such, Confidentiality prevents information from being divulged to third parties but privilege goes further to prevent disclosure before a court of law.
On the other hand, privilege is a special legal right, exemption, or immunity granted to a person or class of persons. It is therefore a favor and can be viewed as an exception to a duty that exists to others other than an individual. Privilege is the right of a witness or a party to refuse to answer a certain type of questions when testifying or when disclosing documents. This is justifiable on the grounds of some special interest recognizable by law.
When Does Advocate-Client Relationship Begin?
The advocate client relationship arises mostly in formal ways, for example in the offices of the practitioner which leads to the formation of the retainer agreement and payment of fees. However, there are no magic words necessary to create an attorney-client relationship and an agreement can be implied from the conduct of the parties which means that the relationship can arise out of an informal consultation as long as a reasonable person in the client’s shoes would interpret the lawyer’s conduct as an agreement to provide legal services.
 Geoffrey Hazard, Jr. and W. William Hodes, 1 The Law of Lawyering, 4.12 (3d ed)
 The Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Ed, pg 294
 Confidentiality, retrieved from http://www.deanza.edu/faculty/ferrillstephanie/para088/pdf/CH03.PPT, 2.09.2014.
 The Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Ed, pg 1215
 W.Bradley Wendel Professional Responsibility: Examples and Explanations (2007) 2nd ed Aspen Publishers p.20