Ethical Responsibilities and the International Lawyer

Mind the Gaps

As more American lawyers are practicing abroad, the result of a growing global market, additional ethical questions are presented. More specifically, attorneys' responsibilities have changed: in addition to knowing the law, transnational attorneys must also understand the cultures, traditions, and languages of the foreign societies in which they practice. Also crucial is an understanding of foreign codes of professional conduct, which can differ markedly from the American Bar Association's Model Rules used in the United States. In this student note, the author details relevant provisions of the Model Code, then compares them both to the codes of selected European countries and, more broadly, to a multinational code the European Community has fashioned. Important differences in areas such as conflicts of interest and attorney-client privilege are illustrated. Finally, the author proposes that American attorneys working abroad undergo a formal certification process to ensure their proficiency and understanding of these ethical issues. Suggestions for both law students and practicing attorneys are offered.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.