How To Keep Litigation Communications Privileged When Accountants and Communication Advisors Are Involved
Category : Legal | 1051 views | 2007-04-02 12:35:02
Everyone knows the attorney-client privilege means keeping the communication confidential between attorneys and their clients in order to encourage open communication but what happens when accountants, communications advisors, and others are also involved? Attorney-client privilege may protect communications between clients and attorneys, but is not meant to include third-parties.
Two such third parties are communication firms and accountants-what is their role in keeping legal communications confidential for clients?
United States v. Kovel demonstrated the right for privilege for non-attorney advisors ruling that attorneys can consult with accountants to best serve their clients and accountants can help clarify accounting concepts for attorneys.
Yet, United States v. Adlman went against non-attorney privilege when it found that the accounting firm legal-related work could not be distinguishable from the non-legal services for the client and that the invoices for both types of work could not be distinguished.
For companies or individuals going through litigation proceedings, the definition of who privilege applies to and the extent of its use is unclear.
President / CEO of Levick Strategic Communications (http://www.levick.com) Richard Levick offers this clarification. His rule: You cant assume privilege.
Levick encourages companies and individuals to take steps to help make sure litigation communication remains privileged. Individuals and companies can feel more secure about confidentiality if they:
Hire a communications firm early in the litigation process to make the communication more likely to fall under "legal advice."
Have the communications firm contract through the law firm, building some separation between the communications firm and client.
Hire a litigations communications team specifically for public relations work focusing on a precise part of the litigation or anticipated litigation.
Indicate in the contract and invoice that the legal PR team is there to assist and make the process less difficult.
Involve lawyers in all meetings and calls between the client and the communications team, but not in a way that would reduce the openness among the clients and the communications team.
View the full article "Keep Litigation Communications Privileged" at http://www.levick.com/resources/topics/litigation/privileged.php
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