Protecting a Client’s Confidences: Recent Developments in Privileged Communication Between Attorneys and Accountants

27 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2014

See all articles by Noah Barsky

Noah Barsky

Villanova University - School of Business

Anthony H. Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business; The American College

Ilya A. Lipin

PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP

Shelley C. Rhoades-Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

The attorney-client privilege is one of the foundations of our jurisprudence. Originally, designed to prevent attorneys from testifying against their clients, the privilege eventually evolved to reflect legal, societal, and financial complexities. This privilege depends on full disclosure and open communication between attorney and the client in order to provide competent and adequate representation. Today, attorneys often require and rely on expert guidance of accountants for various issues pertaining to litigation and transactional work.

This article illustrates how the recent cases of Commissioner v. Comcast Corp. and United States v. Textron affect privileged communications in complex tax and transactional matters between attorneys and accountants retained for the purposes of client representation. The article also offers guidance on how to preserve privilege in communication between attorneys and accountants as waiver of such privilege may have significant and costly implications. At conclusion, unresolved issues pertaining to privileged communication are discussed and solutions are offered.

Keywords: Attorney-client privilege, Tax Workpapers, Work-Product Doctrine, Tax Communications

Suggested Citation

Barsky, Noah and Catanach, Anthony H. and Lipin, Ilya A. and Rhoades-Catanach, Shelley C., Protecting a Client’s Confidences: Recent Developments in Privileged Communication Between Attorneys and Accountants (2010). Journal of Law and Commerce, Vol. 28, No. 211, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2406607

Noah Barsky

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085-1678
United States
610-519-6272 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

Anthony H. Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

Dept. of Accountancy
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610- 519-4825 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

The American College ( email )

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
United States

Ilya A. Lipin (Contact Author)

PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP ( email )

1301 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019
United States

Shelley C. Rhoades-Catanach

Villanova University - School of Business ( email )

800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085-1678
United States
610-519-4356 (Phone)
610-519-5204 (Fax)

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