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It's Not Our Job

Lawyers have traditionally been able to provide their clients with dispassionate legal advice based on a full understanding of the relevant facts. Because of the evidentiary privilege that attaches to attorney-client communications, and the strict ethical obligations of confidentiality in effect in all disciplinary jurisdictions in the United States, clients are allowed and encouraged to be completely candid with counsel. This protection allows lawyers, among other things, to probe the veracity of the statements their clients propose to make in offering securities to the public, and to give frank advice as to the legality and wisdom of their course of conduct. While, in some circumstances, protecting communications between lawyer and client may in an objective sense hinder the search for truth, society has long been comfortable with the judgment that this “impairment is outweighed by the social and moral values of confidential consultations. The [attorney-client] privilege provides a zone of privacy within which a client may more effectively exercise the full autonomy that the law and legal institutions allow.”