ACC Files Amicus Brief with the Oregon Supreme Court in Crimson Trace Legal Malpractice Case
In-House Bar Urges the Court To Uphold Attorney-Client Privilege in Client-Firm Relationships
Posted: Aug 9, 2013
WASHINGTON (August 9, 2013) ––The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association representing more than 30,000 in-house counsel, recently filed an amicus brief with the Oregon Supreme Court in Crimson Trace Corporation v. Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP urging the court to rule that law firms cannot hold back documents from their clients.
In this case, Crimson Trace, a company based in Wilsonville, Oregon, hired a law firm to represent it in a patent dispute. After problems emerged, Crimson Trace sued the law firm for legal malpractice. During the litigation, Crimson Trace asked the law firm to provide it with documents as evidence. But the law firm refused, claiming that it had an internal law firm attorney-client privilege. That is, the firm claimed that even while the law firm represented Crimson Trace, some firm lawyers had offered legal advice to other firm lawyers. According to the firm, that advice is privileged, even though it occurred during the relationship with Crimson Trace, and even though the law firm charged the company for that advice.
In the brief, ACC argues that attorney-client privilege must serve the broader relationship of loyalty and trust between clients and law firms. This obligation prevents law firms from accepting clients with direct conflicts, and it should apply with equal force to prevent law firms from representing themselves as clients when a conflict exists. According to the brief, “Clients pay law firms to serve them as advocates, not fight them as adversaries.”
“Law firms owe their clients a profound duty of loyalty under the ethics rules,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and chief executive officer of ACC. “This is especially true for in-house lawyers, who hire law firms for every conceivable legal purpose, often involving extremely sensitive information. It is this duty of loyalty that prohibits law firms from claiming a privilege to let them hide information from existing clients.”
For information on ACC's amicus filing in Crimson Trace Corporation v. Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, visit www.acc.com/advocacy.
About ACC:The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacyinitiatives. With more than 30,000 members in more than 75 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.comand follow ACC on Twitter http://twitter.com/ACCinhouse.
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