Structuring Joint Defense Agreements in Environmental Litigation

Weighing Key Considerations, Navigating Privilege, and Ensuring Ethical Compliance

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide guidance to environmental litigators on the use of joint defense agreements. The panel will discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of joint defense agreements and offer best practices for crafting an agreement that protects the interests of both counsel and clients and safeguards confidential information shared among co-defendants.


Joint defense agreements can be a valuable tool for counsel representing co-defendants in environmental litigation. Joint defense agreements allow defendants to reduce costs and coordinate strategies, discovery and filings.

However, joint defense agreements are not without risks. Sharing work product and confidential information among defendants—who are frequently also competitors—may expose and lead to future litigation among the co-defendants. Counsel considering entering into joint defense agreements must carefully scrutinize the pros and cons and establish preemptive safeguards to protect their client’s interests and confidential information.

To protect clients and their counsel from potential pitfalls of a joint defense agreement, counsel must carefully craft the agreement. Because joint defense agreements may be discoverable, counsel should avoid including specifics of the joint defense strategy in the agreement and include a provision that the agreement is confidential.

Listen as our authoritative panel of environmental litigators examines key considerations parties and their counsel must evaluate before entering into a joint defense agreement, the key provisions of the agreement, and strategies for meeting the legal ethics requirements related to joint defense agreements.



  1. Considerations before entering a joint defense agreement
    1. Advantages and disadvantages
    2. Scope of information
    3. Settlement issues
  2. Joint defense agreement
    1. Key provisions
    2. Provisions concerning disclosure
  3. Ethical considerations
    1. Conflicts of interest and potential disqualification
    2. Privilege
    3. Waiver


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What critical safeguards must defendants put in place to protect the joint defense privilege?
  • What are the key steps that defendants working jointly can take to avoid or cope with potential conflicts?
  • What preventative clauses should be incorporated in the joint defense agreement to minimize potential risks?


Jeffery J. Carlson
Jeffery J. Carlson

Partner, Moderator
Carlson & Messer

Mr. Carlson specializes in tort defense with emphasis on commercial tort and toxic tort litigation, governmental...  |  Read More

Pamela Hanebutt
Pamela Hanebutt

Eimer Stahl

Ms. Hanebutt is Co-Chair of the firm’s Environmental, Products Liability and Toxic Torts Practice...  |  Read More

Robert C. Mitchell
Robert C. Mitchell

Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease

Mr. Mitchell’s practice focuses on product liability defense and the management of toxic tort litigation on a...  |  Read More

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