The idea that an attorney should not be compelled to disclose confidential communications made to him by a client has its origins in ancient Roman law. Although the effect of Roman tradition on English common law is difficult to determine, England by the eighteenth century was in search of a rationale for the privilege, founded on the principle of justice and truth rather than on Roman law's antiquated notion of chivalry's code of honor. This newer justification for the privilege of barristers to keep confidential their clients' words and deeds rested on the theory that claims and disputes leading to litigation can most justly and expeditiously be handled where clients have fully disclosed to their lawyers all details of their cases. If clients are to feel free to make such disclosures, they must have assurance that their attorneys cannot be forced to divulge confidential communications.
"Part III: Student Comment: The Attorney-Client Privilege,"
Hofstra Law Review: Vol. 2
, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlr/vol2/iss1/7