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U.S. v. JENKENS & GILCHRIST

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois


April 20, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Petitioner,
v.
JENKENS & GILCHRIST, P.C., a professional corporation, Respondent

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MORAN, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The government seeks to compel respondent, a law firm, to disclose the identity of hundreds of clients who engaged in certain tax strategies. Respondent moved to dismiss and to quash because, among other reasons, It contends that the disclosure would violate the attorney-client privilege.

The identity of clients is not normally privileged, but it can be in some circumstances — but those are narrow circumstances indeed, as the Seventh Circuit pointed out in United States v. BDO Seidman, 337 F.3d 802 (7th Cir. 2003). Respondent has sought to analogize its situation to those narrow circumstances, contending that BDO Seidman is distinguishable for several reasons. Since its memorandum was filed, two judges have issued opinions rejecting those reasons. Most comparable is United States v. Austin Brown & Wood LLP, 03 C 9355 (N.D.Ill. 4/15/04), authored by my colleague, Judge Matthew F. Kennelly, because the respondent there was also a law firm seeking to protect the identity of clients engaged in similar tax strategies. Similar arguments were advanced, moreover, in John Doe I v. KPMG L.L.P., 03 C 2036 (N.D.Tex. 4/12/04), and just as soundly rejected by Judge Barefoot Sanders. We have reviewed the pertinent memoranda and the opinions here referred to, and we are persuaded by those opinions that the identity of the clients is not subject to the attorney-client privilege. The motion to dismiss, to the extent it relies upon attorney-client privilege, is denied.

20040420

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