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Florida: (850) 878-6404
North Carolina: (919) 847-8632

Best Practices for Attorney Communications

By: Nick Bader

From time to time, you may have communications with your attorneys, and dealers should want to maintain the privileged nature of those communications. The law in each state has provisions protecting those communications, but those protections can be waived. While OEMs and dealers oftentimes work towards similar goals, their business interests also conflict and they can become legal opponents. So, it is prudent to position yourself in such a way that an opponent does not gain visibility into your interactions with legal counsel.

Attorneys are ethically-obligated to maintain the confidentiality of communications with their clients unless instructed otherwise by the client.  On the other hand, clients have the absolute right (and ability) to waive the confidentiality and protection of attorney-client communications.  Thus, something as innocuous as forwarding a confidential email string with counsel to another individual can result in an unintended waiver of the attorney-client privilege.  

Without further belaboring the boundaries of maintaining privilege, there are best practices business people should use when communicating with their attorneys and confidants:

  1. Communications with your counsel should not be sent or shown to those outside your organization (e.g., vendors or OEMs).
  2. Sharing of the communications should be limited to those within the organization that have a distinct need for the information.
  3. Information legal counsel requests you to collect should be treated with the same caution as communications with counsel.
  4. In most circumstances, the fact you are interacting with legal counsel is not information that should be shared.

Adherence to these best practices will serve to provide the greatest assurance that the privileged nature of your communications with counsel will be maintained.  If you have any questions regarding what can be done with such material, a discussion with legal counsel is appropriate before disseminating the protected material.