Federal Law to Protect Attorney Client Privilege

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduced Senate Bill 445: A bill to provide appropriate protection to attorney-client privileged communications and attorney work product. The bill:

“Prohibits federal prosecutors and investigators across the executive branch from requesting or conditioning charging decisions on an organization’s reasonable assertion of attorney-client privilege or decision to pay of attorneys fees for an employee. This bill emphasizes that the right to counsel is chilled unless the confidential communications between attorneys and their clients are protected by from compelled disclosure. The Department of Justice has changed its rules three times in the past few years, and attorneys and clients need clarity and an unchanging rule.”

The bill would reverse the Thompson Memo and the McNulty Memo which pressured companies to waive attorney-client privilege and disclose the results of internal investigations as part of federal prosecutions for wrong-doing.

The bill was just introduced so I have no idea whether it will be passed or whether it will change during the legislative process.

Thanks to Ellen S. Podgor of the White Collar Crime Professor Blog for pointing out the proposed legislation.