Court Discusses Significance of an Attorney-Client Privilege Legend Appearing on a Document

February 20, 2002

While stamping a document with a legend such as “Protected by attorney-client privilege” or “Protected by the work product doctrine” does not automatically ensure that the document will receive such protections, courts obviously look at such information when assessing a privilege claim.

In In re Grand Jury Proceedings, No. M-11-189, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15646 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 3, 2001), a court acknowledged that the privilege’s application does not depend on such a legend, but refused to find some documents privileged at least in part based on the absence of such a legend.

Using a “privileged” or “work product” legend on a document can support a claim that the document deserves some protection, although over-use of such legends obviously causes courts to discount even legitimate privilege claims.