Attorney-client privilege prevents associate from aiding AG's law firm billing probe, partner argues

A Colorado lawyer who helped the state attorney general gather evidence in a billing probe of her law firm was its special counsel at the time, a partner testified in a Thursday court hearing.

However, Susan Hendrick hotly denied that she had represented Aronowitz & Mecklenburg, and said she was simply working as an associate at the Denver firm when she provided information to the state, after reading in a newspaper that the AG’s office was investigating allegedly inflated charges imposed in mortgage foreclosure cases, reports the Denver Post.

The hearing before Denver District Judge J. Michael Mullins was to determine whether the law firm can assert an attorney-client privilege concerning Hendrick, and thus avoid responding fully to investigatory subpoenas by the AG’s office, which filed suit last week in Denver District Court to enforce the subpoenas. In addition to allegedly charging excessive fees, the law firm is also accused of inflating hours and destroying evidence sought by the AG.

Attorney Robert Aronowitz told the judge he was “absolutely shocked” by Hendrick’s claims and insisted she was retained by the firm to special counsel, to provide advice on how best to handle issues she had brought up in multiple emails.

However, she testified the firm “used the information I gave them to cover things up and make it more difficult to discover.”

Hendrick left the firm after it discovered her role in the probe, and Aronowitz has also sued the AG in Denver District Court.

Attorney Richard Benenson represents the law firm. He argued Thursday that the AG’s probe, pursuant to the state’s Consumer Protection Act, addresses conduct that would be more appropriately be pursued, in a confidential manner, by Colorado’s attorney disciplinary commission.

Mullins has not yet ruled on whether an attorney-client privilege applies.

See also:

Denver Post: “Colorado’s 2nd-largest foreclosure law firm sued in over-billing probe”

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