Last week, in its pending antitrust case against Google, Inc., the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged Google routinely misuses the attorney-client privilege to prevent discovery of ordinary-course business communications.
In a motion for sanctions filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, DOJ accused Google of using its “Communicate with Care” program to teach employees how to shield sensitive business communications “by using false requests for legal advice.” Specifically, Google allegedly instructs employees to create artificial indicia of privilege by adding in-house counsel, applying an attorney-client privilege label, and requesting legal advice even where such advice is unnecessary. According to DOJ, in-house counsel included on these communications, “knowing the game,” regularly do not even respond to the requests. This “egregious” practice allegedly existed at every level of the company, “spanning nearly a decade and permeating the company from the top executives on down.”
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Managing associates Kaitlyn Potter and Drew A. Domina contributed to this Sidley Update.
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