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Whatever is communicated by a client to his attorney acting in his professional capacity is considered as a confidential communication and the latter is not permitted to divulge it, for it is the privilege of the client and not of the attorney. Various juridictions extend this principle to communications with priests, doctors and others.
In general, the rule used to be strictly confined to attorneys, except in such cases as to an interpreter between counsel and client. However, the various statutory and common law exceptions continue to expand and become more complicated, as do the particulars governing their application.
As to the matter communicated, it extends to all cases where the party applies for lawful professional assistance, but the privilege does not extend to extraneous or impertinent communications, nor to information imparted to counsel in the character of a friend and not as counsel.
Just some of the cases in which communications to counsel have been held not to be privileged are: 1. When the communication was made before the attorney was employed as such; 2. After the attorney's employment has ceased; 3. When the attorney was consulted because he was an attorney, yet he refused to act as such, and was therefore only applied to as a friend; 4. Where a fact merely took place in the presence of the attorney; 5. When the matter communicated was not in its nature private, and could in no sense be termed the subject of a confidential communication; 6. When the things disclosed had no reference to professional employment, though disclosed while the relation of attorney and client subsisted; 7. When the attorney made himself a subscribing witness; 8. When he was directed to plead the facts to which he is called to testify; 9. When the intent of the communication was to facilitate a crime; 10. When the communication occurs in a manner that lacks a reasonable expectation of it being private.