Cross Border Ethics - Old Dilemmas and New Considerations in a Changing World

September 06, 2001

Attorneys who counsel clients engaged in cross-border transactions and disputes face a veritable maze of ethical obligations, contradictions and dilemmas.  These challenges have been dramatized and exacerbated by the high tech world in which lawyers now practice.  This paper will briefly survey some of the traditional dilemmas faced by international attorneys:  an implicit higher standard  of care, difficulties in determining applicable ethical rules, special obligations regarding the role of foreign counsel, advising on foreign law, and cross-border due diligence.  It will also discuss voluntary codes of ethics for cross-border lawyers and the recent emergence of regulatory codes of ethics for international lawyers.

The paper goes on to explore new challenges arising from globalization and the impact of technology on law practice, including the regulation of multijurisdictional practice (“MJP”) and the role of lawyers in influencing such regulation as it is being formulated.  It then introduces the Statement on Standards for International Legal Practice drafted by the Union Internationale des Avocats which sets out fundamental principles that should be considered in MJP regulation.  The paper also discusses emerging ethical issues of multidisciplinary practice, on-line dispute resolution, electronic delivery of legal services and regulation of legal web sites.  Finally certain applicable portions of the report of the ABA Ethics 2000 Commission on its evaluation of the model ethical rules are introduced.

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