Businesses receive invoices and billing statements from vendors all the time. Typically, they are checked for accuracy and passed on to the accounts payable department. It becomes a routine often taken for granted and one that is highly overlooked.
But, when it comes to billing statements from your attorneys, you should be careful with the paperwork shuffle. At most firms, the statements today are far more detailed, and include sensitive information about personnel issues and the communications and advice of counsel. In short, they contain information that is protected by the attorney-client privilege. Because most vendor’s invoices and billing statements are routine and not sensitive, it is easy to forget that statements from your attorneys are delicate. In order to protect the privilege, it is important to not expose the detailed statements to unintended employees or vendors. More often times than not that includes the A/P clerk, accountant, auditors and other third parties. Once you provide the detailed information to anyone other than those within your organization with the “clearance” to view them and a need to be involved, you risk waiving your attorney-client privilege.
Protecting our clients’ businesses and organizations is our top priority. That is why we remind our clients to carefully review the processing of attorney invoices to ensure that the attorney-client privilege is not waived. We encourage our clients to utilize the first page of our invoices, which only contains numbers versus detailed information to pass along to A/P, etc. Should you ever receive a request from those without the “clearance” for an invoice and have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm with any questions and/or concerns.