How Much Detail Must a Privilege Log Contain?

February 19, 2003

Litigants must prepare a “privilege log” describing withheld documents. Courts have frequently discussed the level of detail required for such logs.

In Maine v. United States Dep’t of the Interior, 298 F.3d 60, 72 (1st Cir. 2002), the court held that the Federal Government had not provided an adequate description of some documents on its log. For instance, the court held that the following description fell short of the required specificity: “14-page draft statement of material fact from an agency official to the DOJ lawyer representing the Services in the Defenders of Wildlife case in order to assist the lawyer in preparing pleadings in the case.”

Many litigators’ privilege logs contain statements similar to that found inadequate by the First Circuit, and lawyers should become familiar with the approach taken by the court in which they are litigating.