In this case, Zimmerman apparently had an agreement for these 2 lawyers to represent his interests in matters relating to the Martin shooting. Unless and until charges are filed, there is no ‘case’ but there surely are ‘interests.’
If there were a case filed in court, the attorneys would have had to file a motion to withdraw, setting out their reasons, citing examples. In this case, it would be failure to communicate. Courts don’t let attorneys just walk away from a client, the attorneys have to set out their reasons, and the court then has to allow the withdrawal.
Were there a case, the filing of that motion would instantly become a matter of public record. In the absence of a suit or charges having been filed, and nowhere to file a motion to withdraw, they held a press conference. They had already ‘entered their appearance’ in the court of public opinion. How else were they to withdraw from that court?
Attorney-client privilege doesn’t extend to the public information of the fact that said attorneys represent(ed) Zimmerman, or the fact of their withdrawal from that representation. Those are matters of public record. I would imagine it’s not much different from a pastor acknowledging publicly that someone belonged to his congregation but no longer does. Would that mean the pastor has breached his congregant’s privilege?
That may be true, however the attorney is not free to state the reason for the withdrawal if it conveys any privileged communication (or lack of it thereof) or it can prejudice the client.
In this case, there was no "case" so there was no reason to submit any statement to the court. The representation in this case was purely advisory and ANY statement issued by the attorneys would have to be cleared by the client. In this case these lawyers have publicly prejudiced the interests of their client by revealing that they were not only withdrawing from the case, but that they were doing it because their client was either not following their advice or was not communicating with them.
These attorneys were not looking out for the welfare of their client, they were looking out for their own public image. The ETHICAL response to why they were withdrawing should have been "No Comment". Instead they publicly threw the blame on their client and left him hanging out to dry.
Non-communication is a privileged communication. The advice an attorney gives his client (such as "Don't talk to Hannity") is also a privileged communication. The fact that they revealed that their client was not taking their advice is as much a violation ethics as their revealing things he had told them.
BTW are you an attorney?
If so would you have done what these two did if your client did not follow your advice or was not actively communicating with you?
To state that someone is or isn’t a member of our church is not a matter of privilege. Were someone to withdraw, it would be up to them to state why. Sometimes I’m told their reasons, but even then it is best simply to say, “ask them”.
For pastors, the parishoner’s privilege of confidentiality involves spiritual or other counseling sessions. For a lawyer, it would be the difference between what you spoke to a client about regarding his case, and what you spoke about to an acquaintance, who also is a client, at a social event.