December 13, 2017 Articles

Explaining the Attorney-Client Privilege to Corporate Clients

Need to explain the attorney-client privilege to your corporate client? Need a refresher yourself? Look no further than this practical primer and sample client memo.

By Craig Watrous

The attorney-client privilege (ACP), while a straightforward concept to corporate attorneys (especially those who litigate), is often poorly understood by the corporate client. This confusion puts the client, its attorneys’ hard work, and the fundamental protections of the ACP at risk. Inadvertent waivers of the ACP can have serious, spiraling repercussions, particularly in the litigation context.

Exacerbating the potential peril, in the corporate context, more than one person needs to understand the importance of the ACP in order to fully protect it. Counsel needs to fully educate and advise those individuals in control of the company: its C-suite executives, managers, officers, directors, and other key personnel who have direct communications with counsel.

With some straightforward explanation, establishment of company protocol, and regular reminders, the corporate client’s key personnel can be taught not only the vital importance of the ACP but also how to maintain and protect it.

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