Shocking Indictment of Georgia Lawyers has Privilege Implications

April 28, 2004

Many in-house and outside lawyers travel to other states to represent clients in those other states. The ABA and many state bars are struggling with the resulting “multi-jurisdictional practice” issue, but one jurisdiction has taken an extreme step that has privilege implications.

As reported in the April 8, 2004, Fulton County Daily Report, two Atlanta, Georgia, lawyers traveled to North Carolina to conduct an internal investigation into actions by the President of Gardner-Webb University. The Georgia lawyers’ report must not have been very popular, because the two lawyers and their Atlanta law firm were reportedly indicted for the unauthorized practice of law in North Carolina. The indicted lawyers reportedly issued a statement indicating that they had conducted interviews and provided a report to the University’s Board of Trustees, but “did not practice law.” Jonathan Ringel, Georgia Lawyers Indicted for Advising North Carolina College, Fulton County Daily Report (Georgia), Apr. 8, 2004 [no page number available].

This indictment creates frightening issues beyond the scope of Privilege Points, but the lawyers’ defense that they “did not practice law” obviously would eliminate any privilege claim.