Often, someone who’s in jail calls a family member to let them know what’s going on. In some cases, the person asks their family member to help them find and retain an attorney. But many people ask, “Can you hire a lawyer for a family member?”
The answer is yes. You can hire a lawyer for a family member. However, even when you’re the one paying the bills, the family member who’s in trouble is the lawyer’s client – not you. (See the later section, “What is Attorney-Client Privilege,” for more information on that.)
Hiring a Lawyer for a Family Member
When your family member asks you to help them find an attorney, you can make phone calls and talk to lawyers to explain what you know about their situation. You can let the attorney know where your family member is being held, and the attorney will make arrangements to speak with them there. Alternatively, after you make a decision on which attorney to hire, you may give your family member the lawyer’s phone number.
What if Your Family Member Isn’t in Jail – Can You Still Hire an Attorney for Them?
Even if your family member isn’t in jail, you can still hire an attorney for them. Usually, that simply means you’re the one who pays the attorney’s fees.
What is Attorney-Client Privilege?
The information discussed between an attorney and their client is confidential except in certain circumstances. Even if you are the one paying the attorney’s fees, you are not entitled to be part of the case unless:
- You’re helping a disabled adult because you have legal guardianship of them
- You’re helping a blind or deaf family member
- Your family member gives the attorney written permission to include you
- You’re present when the attorney and your family member (their client) are speaking about the case
That doesn’t mean that your family member can’t tell you what’s happening. It’s up to your family member to decide whether to provide you with specific details.
However, you do need to know that attorneys are bound by certain rules that prevent them from committing legal malpractice. Sometimes, allowing a person who has paid their fees (but who is not a client) to interfere with the client’s representation can get a lawyer into serious trouble.
Related: DUI penalties in Illinois
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