Attorney Client Privilege Under Siege in PA?

The attorney-client privilege is used to protect communications between clients and their attorneys, but a Philadelphia judge has recently ruled that it is not nearly as broad as some might think. In Kolar v. Preferred Unlimited Inc., Judge Mark Bernstein ruled that under Pennsylvania law the attorney-client privilege protects only a client’s communications to the attorney, not communications from the attorney to the client (unless they reveal the client’s communications). Although some attorney communications may be protected as attorney work-product, they are not protected as communications per se.

Despite this ruling, this does not appear to be the last word on this subject in Pennsylvania and we will keep you posted of further developments in this area.

Special thanks to Mendel Simon for his contributions to this post. If you have any questions, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.

http://pdf.wcmlaw.com/pdf/PA Priv.pdf

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UPDATE: 2/23/11

Pennsylvania’s highest court has just issued a ruling http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-58-2010mo.pdf that, in Pennsylvania, “the attorney-client privilege operates in a two-way fashion to protect confidential client-to-attorney or attorney-to-client communications made for the purpose of obtaining or providing professional legal advice.” This is a big development — especially in the coverage context.