New Legal Developments

Attorney-Client Privilege

City of Petaluma v. Superior Court (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 1023.
City hired attorney Oppenheimer to conduct a factual investigation of an employee’s allegations of sexual harassment. City specifically hired Oppenheimer to conduct a factual investigation, and not, to provide legal advice. The trial court ruled Oppenheimer’s file was not attorney-client privileged.
HELD: Reversed. Whether an attorney-client relationship is established is a legal issue reviewable de novo. Evidence Code 951 defines a “client” for purposes of the privilege, as one who seeks legal services OR advice. Thus, Oppenheimer’s pre-litigation investigation file was privileged.