Attorney-Client Privilege for In-house Counsel
Haitao Zhang, Director Legal, CNPC America Ltd., Canada
A lawyer practicing in New York takes for granted claiming the attorney-client privilege no matter whether she/he works in a private law firm or a company, although there are so many traps to endanger this privilege (and it is especially true for an in house counsel to face all kinds of challenges to tackle the thorny issues arising from such a privilege). However if one thinks it is a universal norm for a lawyer to argue for an attorney-client privilege, she/he may soon find herself/himself in the trouble to identify such a privilege in a civil law country. Even worse, if she/he works as an in house counsel, she/he may not claim herself or himself to be a lawyer, even without mentioning to the privilege. It might be difficult to imagine being an US lawyer without such a privilege at all. Hence, it is so important for a lawyer to watch out and find a way to carefully preserve the privilege for his client to the extent it is possible. This article will first explore the general concept and limit of the attorney-client privilege especially in common law jurisdictions, and then focus on the varied considerations for such a privilege at corporate settings, and lastly will give some caveats about how to preserve the privilege.
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