Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Doctrine Toolkit
Resources to help counsel maneuver the various privilege and secrecy rules throughout the US and the world.
The attorney-client privilege (www.practicallaw.com/7-506-8557) is one of the oldest and most important evidentiary privileges in the US. It protects confidential attorney-client communications that relate to legal advice from disclosure to third parties. The purpose of the attorney-client privilege is to promote full and frank communications between attorneys and their clients. The protections afforded by the attorney-client privilege are absolute. They cannot be overcome by an adversary's showing of substantial need. However, under certain circumstances, the privilege may be waived.
The work product doctrine (www.practicallaw.com/1-501-8810) is a newer evidentiary protection. It protects documents and tangible things prepared by a party or its representative in anticipation of litigation from disclosure to third parties. In some ways, the work product doctrine is broader than the attorney-client privilege because its protections are not limited solely to communications or confidential matters. However, the work product doctrine is also narrower than the attorney-client privilege because its protections extend only to documents and other tangible things that are prepared in anticipation of litigation. In addition, work product protection is not absolute. Certain kinds of work product may be obtained by an adversary's showing of substantial need. As with the attorney-client privilege, work product protection may also sometimes be waived.
The area of law dealing with the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine is complex and constantly evolving, and the scope and application of the various privilege and secrecy rules vary widely from country to country. In-house attorneys advising companies in multiple jurisdictions should be particularly careful. Failure to follow the specific rules that govern the creation (and proper maintenance) of the attorney-client privilege and work product protection may result in sensitive information falling into the hands of competitors and litigation adversaries.
This Toolkit contains several resources to help the in-house attorney maneuver the various privilege and secrecy rules throughout the US and the world.