The Work

January 28, 2010 12:18 PM

Everyone Comes Out in Support of Textron's SCOTUS Plea in Work Product Privilege Case

Posted by Zach Lowe

Reed Smith is getting the headlines in our world today for its unusual decision to file an amicus brief in its own name urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appellate court decision lawyers say infringes a key area of attorney-client privilege. 

But Reed Smith's brief was just one of 11 filed Wednesday asking the court to review the 2009 ruling, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the IRS can examine documents in which lawyers, accountants and company executives discuss the legality of tax-related transactions, court records show. Williams & Connolly partner Kannon Shanmugam has asked the high court to take the case on behalf of Textron, the company adverse to the IRS in the underlying matter. 

The tax-related papers at issue in the case are "a lawyer's most intimate opinions about risk, exposure and strategy," and should be protected under work product privilege, Reed Smith partner Donna Doblick told the NLJ. 

Apparently, the Am Law world agrees, because more than a half-dozen firms filed amicus briefs on behalf of various clients. The full line-up of amici and their firms:

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (and partner Seth Waxman) is advising the Association of Corporate Counsel;

Latham & Watkins is advising the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising the New England Legal Foundation

Miller & Chevalier is advising Financial Executives International

Shook, Hardy & Bacon is advising the Product Liability Advisory Council

Morrison & Foerster is advising DRI--The Voice of the Defense Bar

McDermott Will & Emery is advising the Council on State Taxation

In addition, three other organizations are representing themselves as amici without outside counsel of record: the American Bar Association, Tax Executives International, and the Washington Legal Foundation. 

Whatever the high court decides, it will be big news.

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