Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's Next for the Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege Bill

Senator Arlen Specter's bill, the Attorney Client Privilege Protection Act of 2007 (S.186 here), was the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 18.  The five witnesses (statements available here) included two who strongly support the bill, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Andrew Weissman, who headed the Enron Task Force before entering private practice.  Two academics, Professors Dan Richman of Columbia and Michael Seigel of Florida, oppose the bill, as did Karen Immergut, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon who is the chair of the White Collar Subcommittee for the Attorney General's Advisory Committee.  Specter has been pushing legislation to limit demands on corporations to waive the attorney-client privilege since 2006, but it's not clear whether the bill will clear the Senate Judiciary Committee any time soon.  Specter is the only sponsor of the legislation, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has not yet announced his position on the bill.  According to an article in The Deal (available on Law.com here), Specter wants a quick vote on the legislation, without waiting to raise the issue in the hearings on the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General.  Whether Leahy and others will go along with that, or postpone any action on the bill until they can get Mukasey's views remains to be seen.  (ph)

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