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Attorney-client Communications, § 905.03 — Billing Records

Harold C. Lane, Jr., v. Sharp Packaging, 2002 WI 28, on certification

Issue/Holding: The attorney-client privilege shields statements from attorney to client, such as billing records only to the extent that disclosure would “reveal[] the substance of lawyer-client communications.” ¶40. The undisputed record here shows that the sought billing records “contain detailed descriptions of the nature of the legal services rendered to [the client]. Producing the attorney billing records would, therefore, reveal the substance of lawyer-client communications between [client] and [counsel]. Accordingly, we conclude that the attorney billing records are protected by the lawyer-client privilege.” ¶41.

The court specifically “declines(s) to establish a broad rule that all attorney billing records are protected by the lawyer-client privilege.” Id. And, indeed, foreign authority seems to be to like effect, Chaudry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 402 (4th Cir. 1999): “Typically, the attorney-client privilege does not extend to billing records and expense reports.” See also id. for brief description of what does comes within privilege. See also Slusaw v. Hoffman, 2004 PA Super 354, 9/13/04, ¶13 (“The subpoenaed invoices are not privileged documents to the extent that they do not disclsoe confidential communications which Slusaw disclosed to Attorneys Wallitsch and Reich. If the invoices contain any references to such confidential communications, those references can be redacted from the invoices.”).

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