As we learned in Qualcomm v. Broadcom, e-discovery can be tricky. While there is an ethical rule against disclosing client confidences, there is an exception to that rule. In order to properly invoke that exception, certain procedural and ethical steps must be taken.

A special ethics and e-discovery panel at the Legal Technology Leadership Summit will reexamine the Qualcomm e-discovery sanctions opinions, particularly as they affected six of the attorneys representing Qualcomm.

On January 7, 2008, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major of the Southern District of California imposed sanctions on those attorneys for Qualcomm’s failure to produce certain electronic discovery (2008 WL 66932). Just under two months later that part of the opinion was vacated and remanded by U.S. District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster (March 5, 2008, 2008 WL 638108). A little over two years after remand, Judge Major ultimately declined to impose sanctions and dissolved the order to show cause (April 2, 2010, 2010 WL 1336937).

Attorney Adam Arthur Bier, the junior-most attorney identified in the Qualcomm case, plans to discuss the impact of ethical sanctions and will offer some thoughts on ways to avoid such situations. Attorney Frank Cialone, who defended several of the six attorneys involved in the case, will discuss the self-defense exception to the ethical rule against disclosing client confidences and will describe what has to be done procedurally and ethically to invoke the exception. Cialone will also suggest the ways in which law firms and clients can work together to avoid such circumstances.

The Summit will take place on September 6 – 8, in Amelia Island, Florida. If you are interested in attending the Summit, please sign up here to join us. You can also take a look at the full agenda for the event here.