While attorney-client privilege is a well-established concept in the U.S. legal system, application of the policy becomes murky when the communications in question are between a client and an outside public relations firm hired to advise on issues related to forthcoming high-profile litigation. What makes this issue particularly tricky is that legal precedent is limited.
Reed Smith attorneys Colleen Davies, Andrew Stillufsen, and I (Lisa Baird) authored an article on the subject, “PR That’s Protected,” which appears in the October edition of Corporate Counsel. The article provides several recommendations for in-house counsel to minimize the chances of having communications with an outside media consultancy become part of the discovery or subpoena processes. Among these recommendations are a strict adherence to good document practices, the creation of a carefully-worded confidentiality agreement to be signed by the media consultancy and its members, and a clear distinction between public relations advisement for issues related to the litigation matter and public relations advisement for non-litigious issues – even if that entails the hiring of multiple media consultancies.
To read the article, click here.