Garvy v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Attorney-Client Privilege Applies to Communications of Attorneys Inside a Law Firm Who Seek Legal Advice From Their Colleagues About a Malpractice Claim  

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by Alex Berg, Attorney, Novack and Macey LLP

Alexander Berg - Aug 2012
Alexander L. Berg

The First District Court of Appeals held in two cases from 2012 that the attorney-client privilege applies to individual attorneys inside a law firm who seek legal advice from their colleagues regarding a potential malpractice claim against them or their firms.  See MDA City Apartments LLC v. DLA Piper LLP, 2012 IL App (1st), 111047; Garvy v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 2012 IL App (1st), 110115.

In both cases, the court examined the scope of the attorney-client privilege when a law firm faces a malpractice claim by a former client.  First, the court in each case discussed the fiduciary-duty exception to the attorney-client privilege and the plaintiff’s argument in each case that this exception requires production of communications between a law firm and its inside and outside counsel.  Each court, however, held that Illinois does not recognize the exception.  MDA City Apartments, 2012 IL App (1st), 111047, ¶¶ 15-18; Garvy, 2012 IL App (1st), 110115, ¶¶ 32-35.

Moreover, the Courts held that, even if Illinois recognized the fiduciary-duty exception to the attorney-client privilege, a law firm’s communications with both its inside and outside counsel relating to a malpractice claim are privileged.  MDA City Apartments, 2012 IL App (1st), 111047, ¶ 18; Garvy, 2012 IL App (1st), 110115, ¶ 35.

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)