Litigation by In-House Counsel, Quirky Question # 50
Quirky Question # 50:
We are a small to mid-size company, with a relatively small legal department. We have a General Counsel. He, in turn, supervises two other attorneys. The General Counsel joined our company about two years ago, and frankly, his relationship with C-level executives has not been ideal. His relationship with the CEO has been particularly strained. The CEO has advised me (Head of HR) on several occasions that she just does not trust the General Counsel. She has expressed doubts about his judgment, his advice, and, critically, his loyalty to the Company.
The CEO recently asked me to initiate the process to remove the General Counsel from our firm. I don’t know whether this leaked out, but soon thereafter, the General Counsel began sharing with me his concerns about whether our company is complying with the law in a number of areas squarely within his area of expertise. He advised me that he informed the CEO and CFO of his evaluation but they appear to be ignoring his advice. I feel as though I’m caught in the middle.
Assuming that we follow through with our plans to terminate the General Counsel, do we have any risks? My assumption is that everything he has been told in the course of his job is protected by the attorney-client privilege and could not be revealed in any lawsuit against the company. Similarly, I assume that he could not contend that he was fired in retaliation for bringing the supposedly illegal activities to our executives’ attention, inasmuch the concerns he articulated are squarely within his job responsibilities as our chief legal officer. Am I missing anything? Answer→