PA SUPREME COURT’S DECISION CRITICIZED FOR “UNREASONABLE AND ERRONEOUS INTERPRETATION” OF PA LAW AND FOR IGNORING PENNSYLVANIA’S OWN PRECEDENTS ON ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE

LAWFUEL – Legal Announcement Service – Association of Corporate Counsel files Amicus Brief Urging Court to Reverse Decision

DECEMBER 12, 2007 (Washington, D.C.) – The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) filed amicus today in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania urging the court to reverse a finding that erodes communications between lawyers and clients. The lower court in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, et. al vs. John Fleming, et. al required the company to produce at trial a memorandum its in-house lawyer wrote and sent to the company’s senior executives and lawyers, noting that the document was not protected by the attorney-client privilege because it was a communication from a lawyer to a client and not from a client to a lawyer.

“This is an abominable decision … it must be overturned,” said Susan Hackett, ACC Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The lower court ruled that clients can ask for advice and that such communications are covered by privilege; but it found that when an in-house lawyer communicates back to her client, it’s not covered since it doesn’t include a request for legal advice. That’s just nuts.” ACC’s brief argues that the lower court decision not only flies in the face of established legal doctrine and precedent, but that is also creates a functional impracticality: lawyers and clients can’t operate effectively together under such presumptions.

The attorney-client privilege is the oldest and most revered of legal doctrines at common law and it is not only socially beneficial, but critical to the effective administration of our system of justice. In particular, ACC believes that the privilege is not meaningful, if it’s not viewed as a “two-way street”: communications between clients and attorneys are essential if professional advice is to be meaningful.

Joining ACC’s brief (which was signed by both Hackett and representatives of each of ACC’s three chapters serving members in Pennsylvania) were fellow amici the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, all organizations whose constituent members will be directly and negatively affected by the Supreme Court’s Opinion.

For more details on the case, and to read the amicus brief, go to:
http://www.acc.com/php/cms/index.php?id=84

– – –

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the in-house bar associationSM, serves the professional needs of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations and other private sector organizations worldwide. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2007, ACC is committed to promoting the common interests of its members and contributes to their continuing education, while seeking to improve understanding of the role of in-house attorneys, and encourages advancements in standards of corporate legal practice. Since its founding, the association has grown to over 23,000 members in 75 countries who represent over 9,500 organizations. ACC has 48 chapters and 14 committees serving the membership, representing all of the Fortune 100 companies. Internationally, its members represent 42 of the Global 50 and 74 of the Global 100 companies. Visit ACC online at www.acc.com for more information.

# # #

EDITOR’S NOTE: For additional information about the amicus brief, please contact Susan Jacobsen via email at [email protected] or visit www.acc.com.

ACC CONTACT:
Susan Jacobsen
(202) 349-1509
[email protected]

Scroll to Top