Attorney-client privilege case accepted by US Supreme Court

In the case of In re Grand Jury, the United States Supreme Court agreed to decide when the attorney-client privilege protects dual purpose documents. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that if the legal purpose was at least as significant as any nonlegal purpose, the documents were privileged, but otherwise were not privileged. The context was tax planning advice. The law firm in question had advised the client on tax consequences and prepared the client’s tax returns. The petition for certiorari argued, among other things, that this standard was difficult to apply. The federal circuits are split on the question, with one opinion holding that dual purpose documents are never privileged. The ABA Journal carried this analysis in an October 4, 2022 story by Debra Cassens Weiss. Once this decision is made, it will impact accounting malpractice actions, and it might have far-reaching implications in all business lawsuits, beyond tax planning and tax return preparation. For more information, contact Tom Patterson at

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