Association of Corporate Counsel Birmingham
City Club Birmingham, 1901 6th Ave. N

Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege & Top Ten Ethical Challenges for In-House Counsel

Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege & Top Ten Ethical Challenges for In-House Counsel

Pete Tepley

Partners Pete Tepley and Craig Alexander teamed up to provide two presentations for the Association of Corporate Counsel Birmingham. Partner Pete Tepley addressed the ways to protect attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product during internal investigations.  Areas covered included:

  • Who is and who is not the client
  • What can and cannot be protected from disclosure
  • Communications and interviews with company employees during the investigation
  • Ways to preserve the attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product exemption; and
  • Reasons why the company may want to waive the privilege and exemption. 
Craig Alexander

Partner Craig Alexander discussed common ethical concerns regularly encountered by lawyers working as in-house counsel, including problems in client identification, conflict of interests potentially created by business transactions with the employer-client, unauthorized practice of law issues in advising the employer-client on the law in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not admitted to practice, and maintaining professional independence in providing legal services to the employer-client.

Key takeaways from the presentation included:

  • An in-house lawyer’s client is the organization, and the lawyer needs to make that clear in the lawyer’s dealing with the officers, directors and shareholders of the organization.
  • An in-house lawyer who supervises the work of other lawyers, or of non-lawyer assistants, in the organization must fulfill the same duties of supervision as supervisory lawyers in a law firm.
  • An in-house lawyer must not allow her exercise of professional legal judgment to be limited or constrained by company policies or directives.