Thursday, August 28, 2008

DOJ Offers New Guidelines on Attorney-Client Privilege Issue

On the same day as the Second Circuit issued the Stein (KPMG related) decision (see here), the DOJ issued new guidelines pertaining to principles of federal prosecution of business organizations.  The government uses new language with regard to the attorney-client privilege.  The guidelines provide that "[e]ligibility for cooperation credit is not predicated upon the waiver of attorney-client privilege or work product protection." Although it is wonderful to see the DOJ finally issuing a statement that will provide guidance to new lawyers in their office to reinforce the importance of the attorney-client privilege, this is not enough.

Guidelines are nothing more than guidelines that serve as internal guidance in the office.  Guidelines are not always adhered to, and non-compliance is often left to the department to enforce. (see here) What this new language by DOJ does show is that they support the importance of making sure that the attorney-client privilege remains strong.  Legislation, as is proposed, will make this happen.

The Guidelines - Download DOJPrinciples1.pdf

DOJ Press Release - here

Statement by NACDL here.

(esp)(w/ a hat tip to Jack King)

   

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