Privilege and Waiver

The existence of a privilege of non-disclosure and waiver of the privilege are two closely related issues.  If one shares information with another  who is not seeking legal advice or helping to develop or implement legal advice  the privilege may not come into existence in the first place, or such sharing may cause a privileged communication to lose protection by disclosure.

The Special Master’s Report in the New York Renu product liability case (at 325) and the discussion of the limitations on waiver – F. R. Evid. 502 – present an opportunity to show how the competing considerations – truth and access to counsel are weighed in both the creation of a privileged communication and in the loss of its privileged character.  The slides that follow were developed to aid that discussion in class. – GWC

George W. Conk

Fordham University School of Law
Adjunct Professor of Law & Senior Fellow, Stein Center for Law & Ethics

A terrific pod-cast from The Life of Law on lawyer advertising

Teaching lawyer advertising? You must include this pod-cast, Call NOW!, whether as part of your students’ reading assignment or in class. I’ll be using it as part of a flipped class I’m teaching this fall, where students will listen to short lectures before arriving in class to engage in small group activities and other exercises.  Here is the link.  And here are some examples of the ads discussed.

“Economic Security and the Young Lawyer”

I ran across this gem in my research today:

Today’s law school graduate must view his future with considerable apprehension.  Unless he has been foresighted enough to secure, by birth or marriage, the proper social, business or professional connections, his prospects must appear to him extremely discouraging, at best.  Private practice? That seems utterly hopeless.

This observation was offered nearly a century ago by Stephen Love, a Northwestern University law professor in an essay written with Karl Llewellyn, Osmond Fraenkel and Malcolm Sharp (Economic Security and the Young Lawyer: Four Views, 32 Ill. L. Rev. 633 1937-1938). All four authors proposed a number of what now seem unsurprising courses of action, mostly variations on the same theme of what gets advanced to address the current “crisis” in the legal profession.  Malcom Sharp’s recommendation was one after my own heart, calling for a “new kind of law office” to address “the great many real needs which the profession is supposed to serve [that] go unanswered or badly served”:

A group of capable young lawyers, on a salary and profit-sharing basis under mature business and legal direction, could set a precedent in specialized, low cost, large scale office organization.   Coupled with group publicity, such an experiment would be likely to open up quickly considerable new business, and a method of handling it.

This is a version of what I’ve advocated for in my own teaching and writing, but seeing it articulated here left me feeling equally exasperated and expectant.

I’m exasperated by the reality that we still don’t have a vibrant community of Sharp’s “specialized, low cost, large scale” legal services organizations despite his call for it many years ago.  I’m expectant as I do believe the time has arrived for the legal profession to expand in this way.  Perhaps I’m overly optimistic having just returned from two weeks of studying new models and markets in legal services as part of MSU Law’s 21st Century Law Practice Summer Program in London.  I will say that running across this article reminds me it isn’t enough to talk about ideas; we must do.  And there are some terrific folks out there doing some pretty cool stuff in that specialized, low cost, large scale legal services space right now, for, example Wevorce, Modria, LegalForce, LegalZoom, Rocketlawyer, Docracy, and many others (see Stephanie Kimbro’s new book The Consumer Law Revolution: The Lawyer’s Guide to the Online Legal Marketplace for profiles of some these and more.) But these examples remain exceptions, not the norm.  My hope for the legal profession–and more importantly for the public–is that this will no longer be true in 10 years, let alone a century from now.

(Cross-posted at the Legal Ethics Forum)

OTHERWISE: A step forward for mentally impaired facing deportation – NJLJ Editorial Board

OTHERWISE: A step forward for mentally impaired facing deportation – NJLJ Editorial Board.

The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board has commended the recent decision by federal District Judge Dolly M. Gee, in an ACLU-sponsored class action, to require assistance to the mentally incompetent who face deportation. That assistance may be by lawyers, law students, or otherwise qualified representatives from a social service organization. It is a step forward in the civil Gideon movement. – GWC