International Legal Ethics Conference IV: The Legal Profession in Times of Turbulence: Day One

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We can characterize the debates at the conference as transatlantic warfare. The US is trying to resist the UK invasion of laissez faire into a monopolistic and protectionist legal profession. It's a lost battle.

The president of the ABA gave a keynote address at lunch which while acknowledging the changes in the world, the US wasn't going to change or it would change on its own terms. For those from the UK and Australia this was a forlorn expression of hope in a myth. The myth is that self-regulation exists in an almost pristine form. But as Anthony Davis, a New York attorney, pointed out there are a minimum of 90 regulators of lawyers in one form or another in the US. Myth or deception, who knows? But I would add that this president, Carolyn Lamm, is among the most cosmopolitan of US lawyers but still she recoiled at the idea of lay participation in the regulation of lawyers.

I gave my paper today. It was well-received and we had a healthy discussion in our session, "Ethics Under Pressure: Changing Regulation of Global Law Practice". My colleague, Andy Boon, and I somehow found ourselves on opposite sides of the debate. I only had to come 6,000 miles to find that out.

PS. Stanford and California are terrific!