ABA: Privilege Should Broadly Protect Lawyers’ Confidential Communication With Firm In-House Counsel

CHICAGO, Jan. 28, 2013 – In a legal-malpractice case before the Georgia Supreme Court, an _ amicus brief urges that the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine should protect confidential communications between a firm’s lawyers and its in-house counsel unless there is compelling cause for a legal exception.

The brief, filed in St. Simons Waterfront LLC v. Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn P.C., urges that lawyers, like other clients, should be encouraged to seek confidential legal advice from their in-house counsel on legal and ethics issues and that they should be able to rely on the privilege and work product doctrine unless there are facts compelling a legal exception.

Stating its strong interest in the matter of attorney-client confidentiality, the ABA filed the brief in response to the court’s request for briefs on the privilege question.

“Many ABA members belong to firms with designated in-house counsel and are affected by decisions requiring production of communications between lawyer-clients and such counsel,” the brief stated. It observed that “in-house counsel have become fixtures at law firms” because lawyers “face an increasingly complex array of legal and ethical duties arising from complicated regulatory regimes, changes in rules of professional conduct, and heightened disclosure obligations under a range of legislation, including Sarbanes-Oxley.”

The amicus brief, whose signatories include ABA President Laurel G. Bellows, is available online here.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Please click here for a biography and photo of Laurel G. Bellows, president of the _.