Are Attorney Fee Agreements Discoverable in California

Are Attorney Fee Agreements Discoverable in California

The court agreed, “but only to a certain extent.” The Court reaffirmed a long-standing principle that privilege “does not apply to all communications transmitted confidentially between counsel and client.” But “the core of privilege” protects communications that are somewhat related to the lawyer`s provision of legal advice. Although an invoice is not submitted for legal advice, the information contained in some invoices may be preferred. Billing information submitted to inform the client of the nature or extent of the work that occurs in the event of an outstanding legal issue would be at the “heart” of the privilege. Even more general information, such as the total amount spent on a case over a period of time, “may come close enough to that core country to compromise the confidentiality of information directly related to the particular professional role of the lawyer.” The court held that solicitor-client privilege protects the confidentiality of information in both categories. For example, in a pending case, an invoice showing a sudden increase in spending may reveal investigative efforts or a testing strategy, and “fluctuations in spending” may reveal an upcoming action or significant concerns. None of the parties spend much time processing this category of documents requested by BMW. In accordance with the lawyer`s accounting records, if the plaintiff intends to request the reimbursement of these invoices in his request for fees, if necessary, the court considers that their submission is also justified at that time and ACCEDES to the request to force the seller`s invoices. The second rule is less clear. Information other than fees, such as references to a lawyer`s recommendations, mental processes, or strategies, apparently remains privileged forever. The recent decision of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors stands in stark contrast to the California Supreme Court`s previous decision in Costco Wholesale Corp. v Superior Court, 47 Cal. 4th 725 (2009), a statement by Justice Werdegar, the vehement dissenter in the recent case. The costco decision dealt with whether solicitor-client privilege protects a letter of opinion written by counsel to Costco regarding compensation and scheduling issues, which was prepared after counsel interviewed employees.

Costco`s court ruled that solicitor-client privilege protected the letter from discovery, “regardless of the content of the letter.” Id., at pp. 731-32, Costco also noted that a court cannot order a closed review of allegedly privileged information to rule on the right to privilege. Id. at 746. Section 915(a) of the Evidence Code provides for this. In its reply, BMW does not appear to argue that the privilege does not apply, but rather that there is no evidence that the plaintiff himself, unlike his lawyers, claims the privilege and that the plaintiffs` lawyers have disclosed information about their agreements with their clients in other cases in the past. ECF No. 122-3, 7-8. While it is true that the plaintiff could waive the privilege in the future – for example, when applying for fees if he or she so wishes – the agreement is privileged until that happens, and the court will not order its submission at that time.2 At the same time, the majority has decided that some of the information contained in the invoices sent by lawyers to their clients may in fact be protected by solicitor-client privilege. to the extent that the information is transmitted for the purpose of legal representation, including information that informs clients about the nature and scope of the work. Id. at p.

297. The majority recognized that, in an ongoing litigation, fluctuations in expenses may reflect litigation strategy. Id. at p. 298. As a result, the majority found that the invoices were protected by solicitor-client privilege during the ongoing litigation. The Court of Appeal first concluded that contingency fee agreements are prima facie protected by solicitor-client privilege under section 6149 of the Business and Professional Code. There is no non-legal exception that undermines privilege in terms of creating fee agreements, with Santa Clara and Clancy not creating such an exception. In addition, Exxon – the party requesting the presentation of the fee agreements – has not presented a prima facie case of sufficient facts to support the application of an exception – no circumstances of illegality or abuse have been proven. .


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