Ga. high court agrees to review decision on firms’ internal malpractice discussions
5:17 pm, November 29th, 2012
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider what rules law firms must follow if they want to keep internal discussions about their potential malpractice exposure secret.
The petition for certiorari was filed by a St. Simons developer and former client of Savannah’s Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn. A superior court judge had ordered the firm to divulge its internal communications to the former client, but in July a panel of the Court of Appeals sent the case back to Savannah for further proceedings under new rules that appeared to place the firm in a better position.
The appellate panel opinion rejected the position taken by several courts around the country that a law firm does not enjoy attorney-client privilege with its own general counsel when a client wants to view internal firm communications about a client’s malpractice threat. Instead, the appeals court panel said the issue needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as whether the role of a firm’s in-house counsel is clearly defined and the extent to which that lawyer delegates tasks to others at the firm.
The justices were unanimous in agreeing to take up the case. They’re expected to hear oral argument in March.
Daily Report subscribers can read more about the case here.