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The definition of representative of the lawyer recognizes that the lawyer may, in rendering legal services, utilize the services of assistants in addition to those employed in the process of communicating. This language clearly indicates that even in the absence of the representative of the lawyer language, the attorney-client privilege would protect confidential client communication to the attorney's employee who is used simply as a conduit for communication.
Florence Manville was injured when she was pinned beneath her waterbed after it rolled off its pedestal. The waterbed had been purchased from Jack Pendley, a retail dealer. The waterbed had been manufactured by American National Watermattress Corporation (ANWC). Within a few days after the accident, Manville contacted her present attorneys for legal advice. Since two of the firm's attorneys were then in trials, the firm sent its full-time employee, Chuck Ward, to interview Manville so that they "could provide her with legal advice and possible legal assistance in regard to that accident." It was undisputed that Ward was not an attorney. Ward interviewed Manville in her hospital room and tape recorded a portion of his conversation with her. This tape recording was transcribed and delivered to the firm's attorneys. The firm subsequently accepted Manville's case. Manville filed an action against ANWC and Pendley seeking the recovery of damages for her injuries. She sued on theories of negligence, breach of warranties, and strict liability. Before trial, Pendley settled with Manville for $ 60,000. Manville then proceeded to trial against ANWC, the remaining defendant. The jury found for Manville and returned a verdict against ANWC of approximately $ 150,000, which, after adjustment by the trial judge for Pendley's settlement and plaintiff's negligence, resulted in a net money judgment of approximately $ 105,000, including costs and attorneys' fees. The jury also found that Pendley had a right to indemnity from ANWC for his settlement payment.
Was Manville’s statement protected by attorney-client privilege even if it was made to Ward rather than the attorney himself?
Even the courts which took the strictest view of the common-law privilege held that it extended to laymen who are necessary intermediaries between attorney and client. In the present case, Manville's communication to her attorneys' employee, Ward, would be protected by even the most restrictive interpretation of the common-law privilege. In this case, the investigator was an employee and agent of the attorney who was acting as a conduit for the transmission of information from the client to her attorney.