• Congressional Investigations

    Lessons From An Ex-Congressional Lawyer

    Almost two decades ago, I learned several lessons as a Congressional lawyer, some more useful than others.  Here is a 59-second summary of the better lessons. Let’s go over a few more lessons that might be useful, should you or your client be summoned to appear before a House or Senate Committee. The Lessons of Congressional Peculiarities A document request or interview demand from Congressional investigatory staff could be a one-time, narrowly-focused inquiry or part of a complex investigatory broadside – involving simultaneous civil, criminal and congressional investigations into a company (or its employees) or even an entire industry.  Examples in recent times include antitrust, food-and-drug, environmental, financial and corporate-governance…

  • Privilege,  Wiretapping

    When Your Lawyer Dimes You In A Wireless World: Undercover Techniques and White-Collar Investigations

    It has become commonplace to note the ascendancy in white-collar investigations of techniques previously reserved for investigations of organized crime and violent, life-and-death offenses. Three recent articles bring the issue around again. The New York Times notes that More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations: The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show. . . . Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level.…

  • Lawyers,  Privilege

    Of Snitches and Privileges

    White-collar writer Walt Pavlo of @Forbes and 500 Pearl Street quotes us this morning in his insightful @Forbes article about the attorney-client privilege.  In particular: Federal prosecutors want to know who knew what, and when [about the GM ignition-switch problem].  However, GM’s lawyers and former lawyers are bound, like all lawyers, to uphold the attorney-client privilege.  A privilege clients enjoy with their lawyer to openly discuss matters with the assurance that their comments will not be disclosed to others.  While the media, Congress and the general public may want an individual(s) held accountable, that information should not come from GM’s lawyers who have been intrusted with confidential information. Every defense attorney…

  • Lawyers,  Privilege

    Privilege, Corporate Silence and Saul Goodman

    We are past Labor Day, and just as well.  Marked by the GM internal-investigation report’s criticism of some of the company’s internal lawyers, the summer was not kind to internal lawyers generally and to the attorney-client privilege particularly.  Consider, for example, the FCPA Blog‘s note on how life is tough for internal counsel. Even more notably, there is apparently a federal criminal investigation of GM that includes the conduct of the lawyers: Prosecutors could try to charge current and former GM lawyers and others with mail and wire fraud, the same charges Toyota faced, said a former official who worked on the Toyota case. But, they would need to have…