This story first appeared in the OC Lawyer magazine and the Orange County Bar Association website – April 2017
by Carole J. Buckner
The Disappearing Attorney-Client Privilege
As you record your billing entries to send to clients, you probably expect that your descriptions will be covered by the attorney-client privilege. You may not be thinking at all about what will happen to the invoices containing those time entries after the case is over. You may assume that information in invoices is protected by the attorney-client privilege even after the case is over. This used to be the case under the law providing that the attorney-client privilege continued even after litigation ended. But things changed with the decision of the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles Cty. Bd. of Supervisors v. Superior Court (ACLU of Southern California), 2 Cal. 5th 282 (2016). A majority of the court has determined that an attorney’s invoices to a client are protected by the attorney-client privilege so long as litigation is ongoing, but there is no categorical privilege covering attorney invoices to clients, so that “there may come a point when [the invoices] no longer communicate anything privileged.” Id. at 298.
The decision is controversial for several reasons. First, the court has changed the law pertaining to read the rest on OC Bar website
About Carole J. Buckner
Carole J. Buckner is a Partner and General Counsel with Procopio in San Diego, California. She is an AV Peer Review Rated sole practitioner admitted to the California State Bar in 1984. She holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1980) and a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco (1984). She is available for consulting and legal advice in the field of legal ethics and issues involving professional responsibility, and the law of lawyering.