We’re hard at work on our topic analysis of the new Lincoln-Douglas topic, Resolved: In the United States criminal justice system, truth-seeking ought to take precedence over attorney-client privilege. Today, we’ve got a sneak-peek card to help jump-start your research while you’re waiting!

Attorney-client privilege is critical to the ethical and complete functioning of the lawyer as an advocate — without it, effective representation is impossible.

Cole, 2003 [“Revoking our Privileges: Federal Law Enforcement’s Multi-Front Assault on the Attorney-Client Privilege,” Lance, Assistant Professor of Law, The Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University, 48 Vill. L. Rev. 469]

The discussion above of federal law enforcement policies and practices over the past two decades demonstrates that the protections provided by the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine have been significantly diminished in recent years. Commentators have recognized this trend toward diminished privilege protections, n515 and have analyzed its impact on particular areas of law. n516 This Article has examined the areas in which the privilege has been under attack at the federal level, with the objective of highlighting the cumulative effect of these attacks. While it is not possible to quantify, or even to measure with precision, this cumulative effect, the extent of the erosion of privilege protections and the level of concern about that erosion suggest that the system may be nearing a  [*587]  turning point – a point at which the continued viability of the privilege is at risk.  Most commentators, and certainly most practicing lawyers, agree that the attorney-client privilege is an integral element of our legal system. n517 In 1978 Professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. offered a compelling articulation of the modern rationale for the attorney-client privilege:     The attorney-client privilege may well be the pivotal element of the modern American lawyer’s professional functions. It is considered indispensable to the lawyer’s function as an advocate on the theory that the advocate can adequately prepare a case only if the client is free to disclose everything, bad as well as good. The privilege is also considered necessary to the lawyer’s function as confidential counselor in law on the similar theory that the legal counselor can properly advise the client what to do only if the client is free to make full disclosure. n518     A review of the Supreme Court’s attorney-client privilege cases over the past two decades demonstrates that Professor Hazard’s assessment of the importance of the privilege remains valid today. n519 A review of federal law enforcement actions over the past two decades, however, demonstrates that the privilege is increasingly under attack and at risk. n520 If one agrees that the attorney-client privilege and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the attorney work product doctrine are central to our adversarial system of justice  [*588]  and therefore worth preserving, then the recent developments that are discussed in this Article beg the question of what should be done to stop unnecessary attacks on the privilege and prevent further erosion of the protections that the privilege provides. Some suggested changes in the policies and practices of federal law enforcement officials are described below.

What do you think of the new LD Topic? Let us know in the comments or submit your case for a free critique!


  1. damani says:

    I feel that LD topics should be based off on controversial topics that kids can relate to or that kids know about. for Example, government shutdown, war, Syria, etc.

    • Janani says:

      I completely agree…. this topic has very little to do with me at the moment.. I wish the topics they chose would have more to do with the teenager age group.

    • Emily says:

      As I agree with your point, the idea of Lincoln-Douglas is to not be an easy topic to interpret. This topic requires further research, which turns out to be a more interesting debate with different ideas.

    • Aleksandar says:

      LD debate is philosophical debate, not PF therefore having topics about government shutdown and syria would not be a legit topic.

  2. Celeste says:

    I hate this resolution! It is very difficult in my opinion to argue the Negation and almost every term in the resolution is ambiguous leaving room for terrible cases to arise…I am not pleased with the NFL’s choice this month…

    • Maria says:

      It is the least liked topic of the year, even for the LD topic makers. That’s why they chose it for Nov/Dec. I’m betting that the Jan/Feb topic will be really good.

  3. Malcolm says:

    I agree, voting and criminal justice are nice but the majority of young people are inexperienced in those areas. It would be much more interesting and real if debaters got topics they had at least a little bit of knowledge on, before hand.

  4. Josey says:

    I feel that this topic isn’t the best topic, because you cannot really argue the affirmative side. I am in debate at my former school now, and when we go to the tournaments I feel that there is no way that I could possible win this by just saying that we ought to do that, because anyone and everyone basically are so use to the norm that they don’t even think for themselves anymore, so they automatically think the 5th amendment should be the same and leave no room for change, and with the way American is right now, let’s all face it, we need a lot of change.

  5. carly says:

    As my first LD topic, I’m pretty excited about It. There’s so many different directions this topic could take, it’s hard to prepare for everything! I do think the negative side may have the upper hand though.. considering it’s the way that has, more or less, been working for over the past 400 years. Any well-prepared negative case should win in debating this topic.

  6. lily says:

    i dont like this resolution at all i would much rather prefer a more relatable topic im having quite a bot of trouble arguing for the aff

  7. Andrew says:

    Relatability should not be an issue in determining the applicability of a resolution. That assertion is PF’s domain and one that LD should stay far away from. Experience or prior knowledge of the criminal justice system is not a prerequisite to being able to successfully debate this topic; if it is then you are doing it incorrectly…

  8. Morgan says:

    I agree that this is difficult topic but I enjoy the challenge and it brings a little more challenge. Also it takes greater sill to argue something that is not as familiar to you it makes you a greater debater and it can potentially help prepare you for the research needed in college. I totally think that it would be more fun though if they were more teenage oriented topics:)

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