U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Legal Services Corporation's Right to See Local Affiliates' Client Lists

News Brief

Legal Services Corporation, represented by Kronish Lieb, emerged victorious when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a lower court ruling, affirmed that Bronx Legal Services and Queens Legal Services must provide client names in response to a subpoena from the Inspector General of the Legal Services Corporation.

The matter originated in 1999 when the Inspector General of Legal Services Corporation, seeking to audit the accuracy of data reported by local affiliates, requested certain information from Bronx Legal Services and Queens Legal Services concerning their client lists and representations. The organizations refused to provide the information in the form requested and sued the Inspector General and Legal Services, alleging, among other things, that the information requested constituted client secrets that were protected from disclosure, that under the contracts through which they received federal funding they were only obligated to provide "reasonable and necessary information" and that the statutes pursuant to which the request was made were unconstitutional. The District Court had previously granted summary judgment to the Legal Services Corporation in August.

The Appeals Court affirmed the lower court's ruling, finding that a clause in their contract requiring them to provide time records and client names "expressly overrides" the "reasonable and necessary" clause. It rejected the constitutional claims as being without merit.

Legal Services Corporation was represented by
Alan Levine and Stephen A. Wieder.

Related Contacts
Alan Levine Senior Counsel, New York