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Abstract 96/97-11

Summary of Facts Presented

An attorney represents both a corporate employer and an employee accused of sexual harassment. During the course of interviews of corporate employees, the attorney assured the employees that candid statements would not be met with adverse consequences, but did not promise confidentiality. The attorney kept notes of the interviews, but did not share the interview notes with the employee client. The attorney discussed portions of the interviews with the employee client. The employee client now has requested copies of the interview notes.

Issues and Conclusions

1. Is it proper for the attorney to withhold the interview notes from the employee client? No. Colorado Rule 1.4 requires a lawyer to comply promptly with a client's reasonable requests for information. See People v. James, 502 P.2d 1105 (Colo. 1974). The lawyer generally is not permitted to withhold information that affects the legal matter for which the lawyer was retained, if the information is important to the client, even if that information is covered by the attorney work-product privilege.

2. Would the result be the same if the attorney performed under the direction of corporate in-house counsel and the corporate counsel held the interview notes? Not necessarily. Assuming the same joint representation, the result would be the same. The result would differ if the attorney represented only the corporate client; then the work-product privilege would apply on behalf of the corporate client and the accused employee would not be entitled to discover the information.