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Attorney-Client Privilege in the Era of Consultants

Multilingual Legal Document Review Services

Multilingual legal document review and translation services play an increasingly important role in the practice of law. Although the principle of attorney-client privilege is set in stone as to communications between a client and their attorney, the issue becomes more complex when a third party is thrown into the mix. In the era of consultants and expert witnesses, it is quiet common for an attorney to communicate with a third party in regards to a client’s case. In the past, the courts have been lenient in extending the privilege to the attorney’s agents (a secretary or a foreign language translator or interpreter, for example) or their employee. But in this case the issue involves an outside consultant with no direct relation to the attorney and thus not limited by the control and responsibility of the attorney.

When a third party expert witness is brought in to assist in trial preparation, the courts have been generally split on the application of the attorney-client privilege. Some argue that the privilege must be adapted to recognize the modern reality of experts and that this reality should not affect a client’s right to sound and confident legal advice.

On the other hand, however, some courts find that since the attorney-client privilege is absolute in nature, its extension beyond its traditional role can have drastic consequences. For example, an attorney looking for an expert that will agree with the argument can shop around until he or she finds one agreeable to their case. However, all the experts who are not agreeable become disqualified from testifying due to the attorney-client privilege.

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