Articles Tagged with Georgia

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York has reversed a lower court’s Order that emails between firm lawyers and their in-house counsel were not protected under attorney-client privilege. The reversal follows a national trend as the highest Courts in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Georgia have also reached similar decisions.

The case involved an employee who hired a firm to negotiate a separation agreement with his former employer.  After consulting with lawyers at the firm, the employee initiated a lawsuit in federal court and instituted arbitration proceedings against the employer. Just prior to the arbitration, the employer advised that they intended to call one of the employer’s attorneys to testify. The attorney had met with in-house counsel regarding his ethical obligations. The employee lost his arbitration and then settled the federal court case for a nominal amount.

Two years later, the employee initiated a legal malpractice action against the firm. During discovery, a firm attorney claimed that discussions in emails between him and in-house counsel were protected under attorney-client privilege. The employee moved to compel production of the emails, which the lower court granted.

The Supreme Court of Georgia has revoked an attorney’s license to practice law in Georgia.  The lawyer represented a client in a personal injury action and negotiated a settlement in the amount of $30,000.  The defendants disbursed the settlement to the attorney, who deposited the check into his personal account and absconded with the money.  When the client never received the settlement funds and was unable to contact the attorney, he sought and obtained another payment from the defendants.  The defendants were also unable to locate the attorney and notified the Georgia State Bar of his conduct.

A disciplinary complaint issued, but the attorney again failed to respond.  For the above reasons, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the attorney had wrongfully commingled funds, in violation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules 1.15(II)(a) and 8.4(a)(4), and revoked his license to practice law.

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