In our practice we see lots of new clients. We are particularly sensitive to the attorney-client privilege issues because many of them communicate with us about employment problems. For employees, it often true that just consulting an attorney may have a negative impact on the employment relationship, if the employer learns of it.

So, on the “Employment Law and Litigation” practice area tab on our website, we make the following suggestion to potential clients: For employees, it often true that just consulting an attorney may have a negative impact on the employment relationship, if the employer learns of it.

Employees should not communicate with Rich Cassidy Law through an employer provided email account, as this may waive the employee’s attorney/client privilege. Call instead for a face to face or video conference.

And yes, we do it in bold, red print. Of course, we still get lots of emails from employees on employer-provided email accounts. As a result, it’s an early counseling issue in our relationships.

Another recurring issue, and one that is not limited to employment clients, is presented by clients who show up with a trusted friend or other support person for their initial conference. As lawyers know, if a third-party is present during an attorney-client communication, the privilege is waived unless that person’s presence is necessary for the conference. It is by no means clear that the courts will recognize the privilege as to communications made in the presence of a friend or support person.[1] Accordingly, we take a conservative approach to this issue and recommend that third parties sit out. We would not want to have to litigate the question of necessity except in clear cases, such as for translators.

The fact that a client wants a trusted friend to be present is not enough to reliably predict that the privilege will be upheld.

It is interesting that, during the pandemic, that this problem seems less common. Of course, almost all our client conferences have been conducted by video conference. We are concerned because we cannot see who is present. The video camera has only a narrow, fixed field of view. Third parties may be lurking off-camera, but within hearing. We think it is prudent to ask.  On several occasions we have discovered that there is an additional person present. Usually, but not always, it is a spouse, and we generally do not worry about that. We feel reasonably confident that, since there is a spousal privilege, a court would not find that the presence of a spouse waives the privilege.

Another recurring problem are copies, or blind copies, of emails sent to us by clients. An email sent to the lawyer and copied to third party is not privileged. Worse yet is the client who blind copies to a friend an email sent to you. If you hit reply to respond, your advice goes to the client and to the person who was blind copied on the original email. The result is a likely waiver.

For the same reason, we do not blind copy clients on our emails to opposing counsel or parties. If our client hits “reply to all,” the privilege files out the window. We take an extra moment and separately forward a copy of our email.

It pays to be careful about privilege issues, and to understand that these concepts are foreign to most clients.


[1] See, e.g., Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Dev., LLC v. US Consumer Att’ys, P.A., No. 9:18-CV-80311, 2021 WL 505122, at *5 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 11, 2021) (“Since confidentiality is a requirement of the attorney-client privilege, no privilege attaches to a communication made in the presence of a third party, nor to an already-privileged communication that is subsequently disclosed to a third party.”). See also, Berens v. Berens, 247 N.C. App. 12, 20, 785 S.E.2d 733, 740 (2016)(Privilege would attach if third party was a “good friend,” of the client, but would apply if the third party is an agent of the party.).

Photo of Rich Cassidy Rich Cassidy

Rich Cassidy is a Vermont personal injury and employment lawyer. He also works regularly as a mediator and arbitrator.

A founder of Rich Cassidy Law, he has more than 40 years of experience with the practice of law in Vermont. Over the years…

Rich Cassidy is a Vermont personal injury and employment lawyer. He also works regularly as a mediator and arbitrator.

A founder of Rich Cassidy Law, he has more than 40 years of experience with the practice of law in Vermont. Over the years, his practice has changed substantially. As a result, Rich has represented all sides in many kinds of disputes: plaintiffs and defendants, employers and employees, injured parties and insurance companies. He believes that the breadth of his experience benefits all of his clients.

He is proud to represent the Burlington Police Officers Association and United Nurses & Allied Professionals.

For many years, Rich’s personal injury practice has been limited to representing injured persons and his labor and employment practice has been focused on representing employees. He enjoys the challenge of representing individuals in a world that seems increasingly dominated by large corporations and powerful institutions.

He has significant experience with litigation and alternative dispute resolution involving higher education, public education, public safety, health care, municipalities and manufacturing. His clients have included college students, faculty, and administrators as well as individuals, businesses, governmental agencies, and not-for-profit entities. He represents both labor unions and individuals in collective bargaining relationships. Many of his individual clients in employment law cases begin work with him under Limited Scope Representation Agreements.

He has also advocated for individuals, businesses and governments in a broad range of civil litigation, including in construction cases, cases under the Uniform Commercial Code, and contract and business tort claims.

In addition to his work as a litigator and counselor, he has served as a mediator and arbitrator and is a member of the Panel of Early Neutral Evaluators for the United States District Court for the District of Vermont and the early neutral evaluation panels for the Vermont Environmental Court and Vermont Superior Courts.

Rich believes that legal process can serve the ends of justice and has been active in work to improve the law throughout his career. For details see our public service page.

When he’s not practicing law or in a committee meeting, Rich enjoys reading, walking his dog, Sophie, skiing, swimming, and rowing his Adirondack Guide Boat on Lake Champlain.



·         Albany Law School Union University, Albany, New York

    • J.D. – 1978

·         University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont

    • B.A. – 1975

·         Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Rutland, Vermont

    • College Preparatory Diploma – 1967 -1971

Bar Admissions:

·         Vermont, 1979

·         New York, 1979

·         U.S. District Court District of Vermont, 1979

·         U.S. District Court Northern District of New York

·         U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 1986

·         U.S. Supreme Court, 1990

Honors and Awards:

·         Jonathon B. Chase Award, ACLU of Vermont, Inc., 1990

·         Grassroots Award, American Bar Association, 2009

·         Equal Justice for All Award, American Bar Association, 2008

·         President’s Award, Vermont Bar Association, 2015

Professional Associations and Memberships:

·         Uniform Law Commission

    • President, 2015 – 2017
    • Executive Committee, Member
    • Scope & Program Committee, Chair, Member
    • Secretary
    • Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act, Drafting Committee Chair
    • Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act, Member, Drafting Committee
    • Revised Uniform Arbitration Act, Member, Drafting Committee
    • The Model Punitive Damages Act, Member, Drafting Committee
    • Covenants Not to Compete Drafting Committee, Chair, 2020 to present
    • Developments in Privacy Law Committee, 2020 to present
    • Vermont Member, 1994 – Present

·         American Bar Association, 1978 – Present

    • Board of Governors, 2005 – 2008
    • American Bar Association, House of Delegates, 1999 – 2015

·         American Counsel Association, President, 2009 – 2010

    • Director

·         American Law Institute, Elected Member, 2015 – Present

·         Vermont Association for Justice, Member

·         Vermont Trial Lawyers Association, Member

·         Vermont Employment Lawyers Association, Founding Member, Past President, Treasurer

·         Vermont Bar Association, Member, 1978- Present


Past Employment:

·         Hon. Robert W. Larrow of the Vermont Supreme Court, Law Clerk, 1978 – 1979

·         Chief Justice Albert W. Barney, Jr., Vermont Supreme Court, Chief Law Clerk, 1979 – 1980

·         Law Office of David C. Drew, Associate Attorney, 1980 – 1982

·         Hoff, Wilson, Powell and Lang, P.C., 1982 – 1986

·         Hoff, Wilson, Powell and Lang, P.C., Shareholder, 1986 – 1989

·         Hoff Curtis, President and Shareholder, 1989 – 2016


Rich is a frequent writer and speaker on legal topics. He has lectured on trial practice, employment, arbitration, mediation, and construction law subjects before the American Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers’ Association, the Vermont Bar Association, the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association, and the Vermont Employment Lawyers’ Association.

He has been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers® and New England Super Lawyers® by his peers. (Listing in The Best Lawyers in America® or Super Lawyers® does not guarantee a desired result in a legal case or that listed lawyers are necessarily more skilled than lawyers who are not listed in such publications.) He was the 2013 “Best Lawyer of the Year” for Employment Law – Individuals and the 2015 “Best Mediator of the Year.”

His blog, On is widely read by legal professionals and is syndicated on Lex Blog.