Lawyers are privileged not to divulge confidential information shared with them by their clients. So I was surprised when I read that a congressional commitee had ordered Bank of America to disclose the contents of communications it had with it's lawyers: see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/business/21bank.html?_r=1&ref=business
As with so many news articles, even those extremely well-written and insightful legal and financial pieces in the NYT, the real story is in all likelihood more complicated. But it is true that the ideal of privilege has been circumscribed in recent years, I think about that radical NYC lawyer, Lynne Stewart, who was prosecuted and convicted largely based on FBI recordings of her conversations with her client.
The special right conferred on lawyers to maintain privilege is not license to engage in criminal activity, but the privilege is essential to the relationship between a lawyer and his or her client. It is fundamentally what a client purchases from a lawyer--the lawyer's advocacy is based on fully knowing what the client discloses in confidence.
I will return to this subject. But I thought it unlikely that I would ever sympathize wtih BofA.