The former general counsel for clothing retail giant Zara USA, Inc. can’t claim privilege in his discrimination-wrongful discharge suit for e-mails he created on a company-issued computer, said New York’s First Department court of appeals in an opinion last month — but the same material might be protected by the work-product doctrine, the court held.
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ContractWhether you are in-house or outside counsel, your clients want the attorney-client privilege and/or work-product shield to apply to materials created as part of an internal corporate investigation.  But the applicability of these doctrines is very fact-specific, and difficult facts can doom that desired outcome.  That was the conclusion of the Washington, D.C. district court 

Thinking of using a public relations firm to help manage a corporate crisis? Divergent interpretations of the privilege rules have led to differing legal opinions on whether communications between a PR firm and the company or defense counsel are privileged. Two different state courts of appeals ruled last month that such communications were not privileged. They illustrate the privilege risk that can arise in communications with PR firms.
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In late December, a sharply divided California Supreme Court ruled that legal-fee bills in closed cases aren’t necessarily covered by attorney-client privilege. Although the case involved a discovery demand sent to a government entity under the state’s public records act, some lawyers have questioned (sub. req.) how far the privilege limitations might go.
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Old-time lawyers say that it used to be easy to get the court’s permission to withdraw from a case. You would just go to the judge and state, “Your Honor, we are not ready to go forward, and I am seeking leave to withdraw, because Mr. Green has not arrived.” You know: “Mr. Green” aka the moolah, aka the promised fee from the client. And, so the story goes, the judge would bang the gavel and grant your motion.
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A sharply-divided Washington Supreme Court has ruled that an organization’s attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply to communications between the company’s lawyers and its former employees. Although Newman v. Highland School District No. 23o adheres to a minority viewpoint, the implications are troubling, and the bright-line test that the state supreme court established in a case of first impression will require new cautions in cases where Washington state privilege law applies.
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Regulatory compliance, cyber-security issues, herding legal operations staff — in-house legal practice is more complex than ever. One element that remains a continuing challenge is protecting the organization’s attorney-client privilege. Slipping up can risk the loss of the privilege in litigation involving the company, and can potentially result in an order to produce otherwise confidential communications to the other side. What are some signs that your law department needs to tune up its privilege IQ?
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Attorney-client privilege covers ethics advice that lawyers get from their law firm’s general counsel, and the communications do not need to be disclosed to the client, said a unanimous five-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division last week, in a closely-watched case. In Shock v. Shnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, the court ruled that the law firm was the “real client” in getting the advice from the GC, and held that the fiduciary exception didn’t apply.
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Microsoft’s plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion was the talk of the tech world late last month. The combination of these behemoths is going to give Microsoft access to all LinkedIn’s data. Microsoft’s CEO has given some examples of the potential synergies that will result, like “getting a feed of potential experts from LinkedIn whenever Office notices you’re working on a relevant task.” But legal ethics issues loom, involving our duty of confidentiality under Rule 1.6.
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