Understanding Your Lawyer’s Representation
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Staying in Bounds
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If you recall, we previously discussed how a lawyer is duty-bound to abide by his or her client’s decision. However, when practicing law, the lawyer must also remember to "stay in bounds." So what exactly do we mean by this?

Well, a lawyer cannot advise his client to act in such a manner that the lawyer knows is criminal. A lawyer can discuss how certain actions would be unlawful, and explain why certain paths would be considered to be illegal, but a lawyer cannot recommend illegal actions. Additionally, if the lawyer renders advice on how to proceed in a certain situation, and the lawyer discovers that his or her client is using his perfectly legal advice to engage in imperfect illegal behavior, the lawyer must withdraw from further representing that client (and may even have to report his or her client’s illegal activities).

It is important to note, however, that although a lawyer cannot recommend that his or her client engage in illegal conduct, the lawyer is permitted to test the extent or soundness of a particular law. For example, in the early 1960s a lawyer may have advised his or her African-American client to walk in and sit down in a restaurant, despite the fact that there was a law that permitted discrimination against African-American people. Under these circumstances, perhaps the lawyer was testing the constitutionality of such a law. Perhaps the goal was to refute any charges or repercussions that the client then faced by making argument as to why the law needed to be changed.

NOTE: An attorney-client privilege is created between a client and a lawyer when a client engages his or her attorney for legal advice. The attorney-client privilege protects the client, as the lawyer cannot divulge that information to others. For example, if a client tells the lawyer about past illegal activities, the lawyer generally cannot divulge that information to others (unless for extreme situations such as to save a life). However, if the client tells the lawyer about future criminal acts the lawyer can (and usually must) divulge that information to appropriate authorities. Bottom line: The attorney-client privilege protects past criminal acts, but not future criminal acts that are divulged to the attorney during the course of legal representation.

Finally, let’s conclude this article with a brief overview of a few key points.

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