AB 267, as introduced, Chau. Evidentiary privileges: lawyer referral service-client privilege.
Existing law governs the admissibility of evidence in court proceedings and generally provides a privilege as to communications made in the course of the attorney-client relationship, as specified. Under existing law, the right of any person to claim certain evidentiary privileges, including the lawyer-client privilege, is waived with respect to a communication protected by the privilege if any holder of the privilege, without coercion, has disclosed a significant part of the communication or has consented to a disclosure made by anyone.
Existing law prohibits an individual or entity from operating a lawyer referral service unless that service meets specified requirements, including registration with the State Bar of California. Existing law requires the State Bar, with the approval of the Supreme Court, to formulate and enforce rules and regulations relating to lawyer referral services.
This bill would provide that a person who consults a lawyer referral service, as defined, for the purpose of retaining a lawyer or securing legal advice has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent the lawyer referral service from disclosing, a confidential communication between the client and the lawyer referral service. The bill would further provide that the lawyer referral service-client privilege may be waived in accordance with existing law.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 912 of the Evidence Code is amended to
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the right
4of any person to claim a privilege provided by Section 954
5(lawyer-client privilege), 980 (privilege for confidential marital communications),
7994 (physician-patient privilege), 1014 (psychotherapist-patient
8privilege), 1033 (privilege of penitent), 1034 (privilege of
begin delete clergyman)end delete, 1035.8 (sexual assault
10counselor-victim privilege), or 1037.5 (domestic violence
11counselor-victim privilege) is waived with respect to a
12communication protected by the privilege if any holder of the
13privilege, without coercion, has disclosed a significant part of the
14communication or has consented to disclosure made by anyone.
15Consent to disclosure is manifested by any statement or other
16conduct of the holder of the privilege indicating consent to the
17disclosure, including failure to claim the privilege in any
18proceeding in which the holder has the legal standing and
19opportunity to claim the privilege.
20(b) Where two or more persons are joint holders of a privilege
21provided by Section 954 (lawyer-client privilege), 994 (physician-patient privilege),
231014 (psychotherapist-patient privilege), 1035.8 (sexual assault
24counselor-victim privilege), or 1037.5 (domestic violence
25counselor-victim privilege), a waiver of the right of a particular
26joint holder of the privilege to claim the privilege does not affect
27the right of another joint holder to claim the privilege. In the case
28of the privilege provided by Section 980 (privilege for confidential
29marital communications), a waiver of the right of one spouse to
30claim the privilege does not affect the right of the other spouse to
31claim the privilege.
P3 1(c) A disclosure that is itself privileged is not a waiver of any
3(d) A disclosure in confidence of a communication that is
4protected by a privilege provided by Section 954 (lawyer-client
6(physician-patient privilege), 1014 (psychotherapist-patient
7privilege), 1035.8 (sexual assault counselor-victim privilege), or
81037.5 (domestic violence counselor-victim privilege), when
9disclosure is reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the
10purpose for which the lawyer, physician,
11psychotherapist, sexual assault counselor, or domestic violence
12counselor was consulted, is not a waiver of the privilege.
Article 3.5 (commencing with Section 963) is added
14to Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code, to read:
As used in this article, “lawyer referral service” means a
19lawyer referral service certified under and operating in compliance
20with Section 6155 of the Business and Professions Code and the
21minimum standards, rules, and regulations of the State Bar
22governing lawyer referral services.
As used in this article, “client” means a person who
24consults a lawyer referral service for the purpose of retaining, or
25securing legal services or advice from, a lawyer in his or her
As used in this article, “confidential communication
28between client and lawyer referral service” means information
29transmitted between a client and lawyer referral service in the
30course of that relationship and in confidence by a means which,
31so far as the client is aware, does not disclose the information to
Subject to Section 912 and except as otherwise provided
34in this article, the client, whether or not a party, has a privilege to
35refuse to disclose, and to prevent the lawyer referral service from
36disclosing, a confidential communication between client and lawyer
A lawyer referral service that has received or made a
39communication subject to the privilege under this article shall
P4 1claim the privilege if the communication is sought to be disclosed
2and the client has not consented to the disclosure.
There is no privilege under this article as to a
4communication relevant to an issue of breach, by the lawyer referral
5service or by the client, of a duty arising out of the relationship.