Lessons From SDNY Ruling on How to Preserve Privileged Communications With Attorney Consultants

Advisers that think that their communications with attorneys at compliance consulting firms are protected by the attorney-client privilege had better think twice. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently ruled that communications between an investment adviser and staff attorneys at its compliance consulting firm were not privileged when made within the scope of a “membership agreement” that specifically disclaimed that the consultant’s attorneys were rendering legal advice. This article details the decision, provides attorney insight on its implications and outlines several best practices to consider in order to avoid waiving privilege. See our three-part series on protecting privilege while cooperating with the government: “Establishing Privilege and Work Product in an Investigation” (Feb. 8, 2017); “Strategies to Minimize Risks During Cooperation” (Feb. 22, 2017); and “Implications for Collateral Litigation” (Mar. 8, 2017).

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