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Introduction to Washington ER 502: Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Protection

Understanding the Essentials of Washington’s ER 502 Washington’s Rule of Evidence 502, known as ER 502, plays a crucial role in the legal system. Adopted on September 1, 2010, this rule defines how attorney-client privileges and work-product protections can be waived under certain conditions. This article provides a comprehensive breakdown of ER 502, offering insights into its impact on legal proceedings and client confidentiality in Washington State.

Key Provisions of Washington ER 502

  1. Intentional and Inadvertent Waivers (ER 502(a) and (b)): ER 502(a) clarifies that a waiver applies to undisclosed communications in Washington proceedings if it’s intentional, relates to the same subject matter, and should be considered together. Conversely, ER 502(b) addresses accidental disclosures, stating that such instances do not result in a waiver if the disclosure was inadvertent, reasonable steps were taken to prevent it, and prompt actions were taken to rectify the error.
  2. Non-Washington Disclosures (ER 502(c)): Disclosures in non-Washington proceedings do not constitute a waiver in Washington if they wouldn’t be considered a waiver under Washington’s rules or the laws of the jurisdiction where the disclosure occurred.
  3. Power of Court Orders and Party Agreements (ER 502(d) and (e)): Washington courts can order that a disclosure in litigation does not waive privilege, and this protection extends to other proceedings. Agreements about disclosure effects in Washington are binding only on the parties involved, unless incorporated into a court order.
  4. Defining Key Terms (ER 502(f)): The rule also defines critical terms like “attorney-client privilege” and “work-product protection,” focusing on the confidentiality of legal communication and materials.

Impact and Importance of ER 502

ER 502 serves as a protective barrier for attorney-client communications and work product in Washington State, ensuring the confidentiality of legal consultations and strategies. It outlines clear guidelines for waivers of privilege or protection, safeguarding against the misuse of inadvertent disclosures and addressing the complexities of cases across different jurisdictions.

ER 502 is a cornerstone in maintaining the integrity of attorney-client relationships and the confidentiality of legal preparations in Washington. Its comprehensive provisions strike a balance between transparency in legal proceedings and the protection of sensitive information. As the legal field evolves, the principles of ER 502 will continue to be crucial for upholding the effectiveness and integrity of the legal system in Washington.

You can read the Text of ER 502 here:

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About Blanford Law:

We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us